Monday, March 14, 2005

(Google Advanced Search) Squared

Maybe I'm the last one to figure this out, but . . .

As a gypsy scholar without access to libraries having extensive holdings of Western scholarly texts, I often resort to the internet to search for books and articles, and I sometimes even find a goodly number uploaded to the web.

When I was told about Google and its Advanced Search capability (a couple of years ago), I began using it to speed up my online searches. I soon learned the main drawback, an excess of items located in nearly every search.

For example, suppose that I want to find online sources that contain both the name "John Milton" and the technical expression "middle knowledge."

Previously, I would go to Google Advanced Search, enter "John Milton" into the slot labeled "with the exact phrase," then enter "middle knowledge" into the slot labeled "with all of the words," and then click. Let's enter these without using the quotation marks. Using this method, up come 34,000 results. Those would take a long time to wade through, and I would never try. Instead, I would narrow my search by entering more terms into the slot labeled "with all of the words." But this process is very time-consuming.

Now, however, I have a new method. Enter "John Milton" into the "exact phrase" slot as done above. But in the slot labeled "with all of the words," use the quotation marks: double-quote middle knowledge double-quote (i.e., "middle knowledge"). Then click. Now, up come 10 results. No more wading -- dive right in.

Update: I have now realized that by using quotation marks, two or more phrases can be entered into the slot labeled "with all of the words," and Google Advanced Search will find online sources that contain them. In fact, not even Advanced Search is needed to do this. The ordinary Google Search function manages such a search without difficulty. I guess everybody else knew this already but forgot to mention it to me . . .


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