Cerro Coso Community College

Library Books

Searching the Internet

Finding reliable and scholarly information online can be a challenge.

Search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo can be a good place to start research because they retrieve information quickly and freely. Keep in mind, however, that they do not search the entire web and sometimes bring back too many results.

Not all online information is trustworthy, so look for author credentials, recent update dates, and professional content while searching. Domain name suffixes often give clues as to the reliability of information found on web sites. Educational and government sites are generally the most suitable for scholars and students.

Major domain name suffixes include:

  • .edu - educational institutions
  • .gov - government agencies
  • .mil - military sites
  • .org - nonprofit organizations
  • .com - commercial sites
  • .net - networks
  • .uk, .ca, etc. (Other countries, e.g. United Kingdom, Canada, etc.).

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words that allow you to combine or alter the terms in your search bar in order to improve your list of results. AND, OR, and NOT are the most widely used operators. Typically, AND only pulls results that include both terms, OR pulls results that have either term or both, and NOT pulls results that include the first term but exclude the second.

AND diagram OR diagram NOT diagram

Many search engines automatically use AND if you include more than one keyword, but may use different terms for other features. For example, instead of using NOT to exclude a term, Google uses the minus (-) sign before the term. Check out a search engine's help section for more information.

As an example, here are some of Google's most useful Boolean operators:

Word1 Word2
Boolean AND is automatically used between words unless otherwise indicated.
Word1 -Word2
A minus sign (-) excludes search results that contain Word 2 (instead of NOT)
Word1 OR Word2
OR searches for pages including either word (Boolean OR must be capitalized)
"Exact phrase"
Quotation marks (" ") search for a phrase in that exact word order.
The tilde (~) searches for a word and its synonyms.
Define: searches for links to dictionary definitions of the word.
Site:(.URL ending) finds sites with a certain domain ending (.org, .gov, etc.)
Link:(URL) searches for all pages that link to that particular website.
Units1 in Units2
IN converts units of measurement (8 ft in cm, $100 in euros, etc.)

Google can also be used as a basic calculator by entering basic math questions (1 +1, 25% of 80, 64^2, sqrt(121), etc.) in the search bar.

More Google search tools can be found at Google Search Help.

Although searching the web can retrieve some very useful results, one may save some time by browsing lists of websites that have already been organized and examined for content. The Cerro Coso Community College library staff created their Web Sites by Subject to highlight some of the best free online resources available to students. Don't forget to check out the books, eBooks, and databases as well!