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  • Writer's pictureDan Russell

Top 10: Things you must know to be a powersearcher

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

1.  Do one more search.  We have found that people have a tendency to do one simple search to understand a complex topic, and often end up taking the result from the first way they thought about a question.  Successful searchers often do two or three searches on a topic to gain a number of perspectives.  (This is especially true for complex or contentious topics.) 

2.  Consider using an alternate corpus for your search. It’s often useful to switch from Web search to Images or Video or Books and do another version of your search.  For instance, searching for information about how to go bodysurfing can be done with regular web search, but also searching on Images or will give you all kinds of great results as well! 

3.  Image search in particular is handy when looking for examples of resumes to use as prototypes for your resume,  use Google Images for a huge number of great examples.   For instance:

     [ resume ]

4. When you want to search JUST on a particular site, use the site: operator.  To search just the New York Times you would do

     [ Daniel M Russell ]

5. To search for a particular type of tile, use the filetype:  operator.  For example,

     [ filetype:PDF coral bleaching lesson plan ]

will find only PDF files that are lessons for teaching high school students about superconductors.

6. Using double quotes around a few words will search for that particular phrase.  Contrast the search results for [ when Venus the goddess of beauty and love ] vs. [ “when Venus the goddess of beauty and love” ]  -- the second search with the quoted phrase searches for ONLY that sequence of words, leading you to a line from Newman’s Ale, a rather old song.  The first, unquoted search, finds lots of results about Venus (both goddess and planet), but not the song lyric. 

7. When looking for reliable information about a topic, consider using to find the latest information on scientific research.  The Scholar site collects and organizes the world’s scholarly information.  For instance, you can learn the latest about coral bleaching by searching for [ coral bleaching events ] on

8.  There’s no reason to NOT know what a word means!  You can always search for a word you don’t know using define – for instance:  [ define quantum mechanics ] and get a quick definition of the term.  This is really handy when reading older novels.  This way, when Charles Dickens talks about a bindlestiff, you can find out what he means. 

9.  Learn about the power of unit conversions on Google.  Did you know you can do conversions like this?

     [ 300 cubits in yards ]

     [ 22 kg in pounds ]

     [ 10 kilometers in miles ]

     [ 1 cup in tablespoons ]

     [ 22 C in F ]   

10. Another conversion worth knowing about is Google’s monetary conversions:

     [ $100 in Euros ]

     [ 20000 rupees in USD ]

     [ 100 South African Rand in Japanese Yen ]

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