Google for Writers: Search Tips


Some writers say you should turn off the Internet while you're writing so as to not be tempted to distract yourself, but I like to research as I write.  And when it comes to online research, Google is my favorite search engine.  It's also the most comprehensive, free and public search engine available, so until another one comes along with its power, I'm googling.

I've also used Google in my "other job" as a private investigator, so I've learned a few tricks for conducting quick, efficient searches.  I'm noting a few of these in today's post.

Use Quotation Marks to Indicate Exact Search Term

I use this a lot, especially when I want to research a multi-word term (otherwise, Google will be too helpful and provide information about the different words within the search, not that exact term).  For example, let's say I want to research an event that occurred in 1966 in Omaha that involved a person named Beatrice-Alice Smith (I'm making this up).  I don't want Google looking up instances of Beatrice and Alice and Smith associated to 1966 and Omaha, so I'll type:

"Beatrice-Alice Smith" 1966 Omaha

Search images

In my investigations business, I've sometimes needed to find images on the Internet.  Although there are other image search engines (such as TinEye), I've found Google to dredge up images other utilities can't find.  

To use the Google search engine, click here.  You can search by a name, URL or download an image that is the basis of your search.  

Find Definitions

Type the word define: followed by the word you want to define.  For example, if you type:

define: regalia

Google lists definitions from the Web for the word regalia.

To define a term or phrase, use the word define, without the colon, followed by the term:

define sly as a fox

Look Up Words Within a Web Page

The command allintext: looks up the following words within a Web page, which could be a newspaper, document, blog, website and so on.  For example, let's say I want to see any mentions of Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary within Web pages, I might type:

allintext: Abraham Lincoln wife Mary

Hope some of these search tips are helpful for your writing research, too!

Have a great day, Colleen