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Hamersly Library

WR 360 - Fiction Workshop: Advanced Google Searching

Resources to help give your characters backstory, add details to your setting that make your story credible, inspire you when you're just looking for ideas, and provide you with information about the craft of writing and the strategy of getting published.

Advanced Google Searching

There's no way to anticipate everything that you might need to know for your story with this guide, and it could be that the library doesn't even have all the types of information you might need. So, you will likely need to do some Googling as part of your research. But it can often be time-consuming and frustrating to sift through pages and pages of results. That's where the tips and tricks on this page come in - they will help make your searching more precise.

Go to and try each of the searches below to see how they change your results. You can also try these techniques using Google's advanced search form.

Part 1: Search by Domain Name

In the search box, enter some keywords as you normally would and then add this to the end of your keywords: .domain (e.g. .edu, .gov, etc.)

Common Domain Names:

.com  generic domain, usually commercial, but anyone can use it

.edu  limited to U.S. educational institutions

.gov  limited to U.S. government

.org  usually non-profit organization, but anyone can use it

.mil  limited to U.S. military

.museum = museums

.net = networks, but anyone can use it

Part 2: Search Using Special Characters

Exert greater control over your search results using special characters called search operators. 

Common search operators:

Search for an exact word or phrase using quotation marks (" "): "keywords"

Exclude a word by adding a dash (-) before the word you'd like to exclude from your results: -keyword

Include a "fill in the blank" by using an asterisk (*) before or after a word or phrase: keyword

Search for pages that are similar to a URL by using related:keyword


Part 3: Search by File Type

This technique allows you to limit your search to a particular file type. It can help you find reports, newsletters, articles, fact sheets and similar documents.

In the search box, add this to the end of your search: filetype:PDF  *Note: Use PDF not .PDF (with a period)*

Other Common File Types:

doc or docx = Word document

xls or xlsx = Excel spreadsheet

ppt or pptx = PowerPoint