Internet Search Hints

Helpful Hints for Search Engines and Entering URLs

Entering a search:
Note: A given search engine may not have all of the listed capabilities, and search syntax may be different.

  • Use AND to combine terms and narrow down a search.
    Example: cancer AND lung
  • Use OR to include multiple terms.
    Example: cancer OR neoplasms
  • Enclose phrases in quotation marks.
    Example: “infectious diseases” instead of infectious diseases.
  • Use the “+” sign to make sure that a specific term is included. 
    Example: +tuberculosis +CDC retrieves only pages with both tuberculosis and CDC appearing in them.
  • Use the “-” sign (minus/hyphen) to exclude unwanted terms.
    Example: tuberculosis -CDC retrieves only pages about tuberculosis that do not include CDC.
  • Read the search engine’s home page. Hints, instructions, and advanced search capabilities are usually included.
  • Try different search engines. Retrieval, coverage, and search capabilities vary.
  • Use the search engine’s advanced search mode.


Entering URLs:

  • It is not necessary to type ‘http://’ before a URL.
  • All URL’s do not start with ‘www’.  Example: The Health Center’s URL is, but the Library’s URL is
  • URL’s may be case-sensitive. A given URL may not work if even a single character is typed in the wrong case.
  • Guessing URL’s does not always work. Example: Typing in retrieves the American Management Association instead of the American Medical Association. The American Medical Association’s URL is
  • Forward slashes (/) are always used in a URL. Back-slashes () are never used.
  • Common URL extensions:
    .com = commercial web site, usually North American
    .edu = educational institution web site
    .gov = U.S. civil government web site
    .org = non-profit organization
    .mil = U.S. military web site
    .us = state web site (‘.us’ is always preceded by an abbreviation for the state, i.e. ‘.tx’) = foreign web sites, indicating country
    (See for a list of country codes.)