Let’s say you are looking for information about kidney diseases in children. You could start by typing kidney in the search box, but you would get a very long list of websites back. Now you have two options to help you get better search results. If you use the +(plus) sign before each word, then the search engine will look for websites that have all of those words in them. So you could type in +(plus)kidney +(plus)disease +(plus)children. That would probably get you a list of websites that were closer to what you are looking for. But it would also give you websites that have information about other diseases, as well as kidneys, and perhaps mention children in them somewhere. To be even more specific, and get a list of websites that are only about kidney disease in children, you can type your search phrase in quotes, like this: “kidney disease in children”. The search engine will then look for that whole phrase, all the words together, on websites. You are far more likely to find what you are looking for this way.
Now, what if you want to find information about something that you know is probably going to appear in lots of websites? Let’s say you are trying to find information about the Fifa World Cup, but you don’t want to read about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. You can use the – (minus)sign, like this: +(plus)Fifa -(minus)South Africa. The search engine will then leave out of its results list any websites that mention Fifa and also South Africa.
You can also use the word OR (in capital letters) if you are looking for two things that may be related. For example, if you specifically wanted to read all the news about Fifa and South Africa, you could type in Fifa OR South Africa.
Spelling is important. Some search engines, like Google, will help you if you spell something wrong by suggesting a correct spelling. For example, if you type in kidnies, they will respond: Did you mean kidneys? Other search engines won’t do this, so you need to try and check your spelling, especially if you are not getting the results you are looking for. If you are looking for something or someone by name, make sure you get the spelling of their name right.