An initial search for the family line I am researching – the Forshaw family, returned 3,680,000 results. This post discusses how to narrow down your search results using Google operators.
To search for a phrase, a proper name, or a set of words in a specific order, put them in double quotes.
A query with terms in quotes finds pages containing the exact quoted phrase. For example, “Forshaw family” finds pages containing the phrase Forshaw family exactly. Without the quotes, the query finds pages containing any of Forshaw and family.
“Forshaw family” = 4520 results
Forshaw family – without the quotes finds pages containing any of the words. e.g.
- family facts for: Forshaw
- Forshaw family tree
- Family fun at Forshaw
In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely.
The Forshaw family I am researching come from Ormskirk in Lancashire. The search query: Forshaw “Ormskirk” provided 58,700 results
Use *, an asterisk character, known as a wildcard, to match one or more words in a phrase (enclosed in quotes).
Each * represents just one or more words. Google treats the * as a placeholder for a word or more than one word. For example, [ “Google * my life“ ] tells Google to find pages containing a phrase that starts with “Google” followed by one or more words, followed by “my life.” Phrases that fit the bill include: “Google changed my life,” “Google runs my life,” and “Google is my life.”
My great, great uncle, Charles Francis Forshaw was born in 1888 in Ormskirk. The search query: “charles forshaw” * Ormskirk 1888 returned 139 results.
Specify synonyms or alternative forms with an uppercase OR or | (vertical bar).
The OR operator, applies to the search terms immediately adjacent to it. The first example will find pages that include either “Tahiti” or “Hawaii” or both terms, but not pages that contain neither “Tahiti” nor “Hawaii.” The second example will find pages that contain any one, two, or all three of the terms “blouse,” “shirt,” and “chemise.”
[ Tahiti OR Hawaii ]
Note: If you write OR with a lowercase “o” or a lowercase “r” Google interprets the word as a search term instead of an operator.
” forshaw” ormskirk OR aughton
Find synonyms by preceding the term with a ~, which is known as the tilde or synonym operator.
The tilde (~) operator takes the word immediately following it and searches both for that specific word and for the word’s synonyms. It also searches for the term with alternative endings. The tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms. Put the ~ (tilde) next to the word, with no spaces between the ~ and its associated word, i.e., [ ~lightweight laptop ].
~coachman domestic. The term I used to research an occupation of Charles Francis Forshaw.
If you include filetype:suffix in your query, Google will restrict the results to pages whose names end in suffix. For example, [ web page evaluation checklist filetype:pdf ] will return Adobe Acrobat pdf files that match the terms “web,” “page,” “evaluation,” and “checklist.” You can restrict the results to pages whose names end with pdf and doc by using the OR operator, e.g. [ email security filetype:pdf OR filetype:doc ].