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Special Characters: Summary

This table summarizes how to use the basic search operators described in this chapter. You may include any of these operators multiple times in a query.

Notation Find result Example
term1 term2 with both term1 and term2 carry-on luggage ]
term1 OR term2 term1 | term2 with either term1 or term2 or both

Tahiti OR Hawaii ]

Tahiti | Hawaii ]

"term" with term (Put quotation marks around terms that are stop words — that is, words Google would otherwise ignore — or when you want Google to return only pages that match your search terms exactly.) "i" spy ]
term without term twins minnesota –baseball ]
~term with term or one of its synonyms (currently supported on Web and Directory search) google ~guide ]
number1..number2 with a number in the specified range recumbent bicycle $250..$1000 ]
"terms1 * terms2" with the phrase (enclosed in quotes) and * replaced by one or more words “Google * my life” ]
phrase“  with the exact phrase, a proper name, or a set of words in a specific order

“I have a dream” ]

“Rio de Janeiro” ]

Queries that use this special notation may also be entered by using Google’s Advanced Search, which we’ll look at next.


This problem set is designed to give you practice in refining your queries and in using Google’s commands with special notation. For hints and answers to selected problems, see the Solutions page.

  1. Find the Google “cheat sheet” that lists search operators and services.
  2. How long before you go outside should you apply sunscreen?
  3. Find advice on writing a will.
  4. Search for your own name. Does Google find any references to you or a namesake?

    See if there is any difference in your results if you type a period (.) between your names rather than enclosing your name in quotes and if you just enter the opening quote, i.e., compare the results from [ Nancy.Blachman ], [ ”Nancy Blachman” ], and [ ”Nancy Blachman ].

  5. Find pages on daily life in Afghanistan that do not mention war or the Taliban.
  6. What is the history of the McIntosh Apple (the fruit), not the computer?
  7. Find the terms that Google considers approximately equivalent to the term “cheap.”
  8. Find the terms that Google considers approximately equivalent to the term “volunteer.”
  9. Find today’s weather forecast/condition.
  10. Find recipes for zucchini, also known as courgette in the UK and France.
  11. Find studio apartments for rent in Minneapolis or St. Paul, Minnesota.
  12. Find Iranian restaurants in New Jersey and New York.
  13. Why does the query [ “the who” ] give more priority to results about the rock band The Who than the query [ the who ] but return significantly fewer results?

tags (keywords): , , ,

This page was last modified on: Sunday February 26, 2012

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Creative Commons

By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.