The beauty of the Internet is that the answer to virtually every question is right in front of you. It’s at the tip of your fingertips, which makes life easier than ever.
The less-than-beautiful part of the Internet is the user. While the web is fast and amazingly thorough, not all people are.
If you’re searching the ‘net for answers — whether to research your new book or help your kids with homework — and you’re not finding what you need, it’s probably not the Internet’s fault. It’s yours. Here’s three tips to help you out.
1. Be specific
You’re helping your teen write a paper about Abraham Lincoln’s early life? Kudos for being a helpful and invested parent. Minus points for not having any idea how to narrow down the millions of search results the Internet provides when you type old Abe’s name into the search engine.
You must be specific if you want to narrow down the results and pick up the pace of your work. Try entering phrases such as “Abraham Lincoln childhood,” or his name and the dates from the year he was born until the year he was 18. It’ll help tremendously.
2. Quotations narrow results
Chances are good that searching for old Abe on the Internet is also going to net you a few million pages worth of results that include everything from the Lincoln Tunnel to the Lincoln Navigator sale going on “right now!”
By placing quotations around his name, you will only receive results that use the entire phrase, in that order, rather than results than merely include both Abraham and Lincoln.
3. Narrow results with the minus operator
The minus operator, better known to some as the subtraction sign or dash, can further narrow your results. If you’re searching for information about mustangs and there’s a company somewhere by the name of Mustang Inc., you’ll receive all their information.
Enter into the search engine, “mustang -Inc” and you’ll eliminate those needless results. While the Internet is a great tool for educational purposes, it’s not as helpful a tool to use as standard washers for many less tech-savvy users.
The web is a great resource, but only if you know how to use it properly. Knowing how to avoid wading through millions of pages of random results for the one thing you’re looking for can help you feel more confident and effective in your abilities.