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Topic: Researching Your Family History — Better Google Searching

A guide to support UNIV 1820 and general genealogy/family history research

Google Basics

General guidelines 

Google searches are NOT case sensitive.

Word order matters. 

Every word matters. 

Google ignores punctuation.  Exceptions: @, $, #

Google does not allow truncation; it automatically stems keywords. 


Search Tips and Tricks

OR OR or “|” pipe character (use OR in caps)  
cats OR dogs
Quotation Marks for Phrases or exact matches (” “)
 "united empire loyalist" "bunker hill"
Minus sign (-) to exclude terms from your search
site: search within a website
 "Executive Order 9066" OR
Wildcard symbol - the asterisk * : search for missing words between other terms
 room * happens 
filetype: limit your search by filetypes pdf, jpg, doc, ppt and more     
"war relocation center" filetype:jpg
cemetery connecticut filetype:pdf
related: to find pages with similar content
number range: number..number  
civil war 1861..1865 (no spaces between the range of years)
intitle: and allintitle: restricts results to webpages with search words in the webpage title
   intitle:japanese internment allintitle:topaz war relocation center
AROUND n: search terms are near each other within a certain number  
dna AROUND 3 genealogy 

Google Images

google images

After you perform a search and view the results, click on TOOLS and limit your search results by any of the following:

Size: Any size, large, medium, icon, larger than, exactly

Color : Any color, Full, Black and White, Transparent, or a specific color 

Type:  Face, Photo, Clip Art, Line drawing, Animated

Time: Any time, Past  24 hours, Past week, Custom Range

Usage Rights:  Not filtered by license, Labeled for resue with restriction, Labeled for resue, and more. 

More tools: All results, Show sizes


Google Books

google books

Search for your topic using the google books search box.  After you complete the search, click on TOOLS to view additional options to narrow your search. 

  • Any books:  Any books, Preview available, Google eBooks, Free Google eBooks
  • Any document: Books, Magazines
  • Any time: 21st century, 20th century, 19th century, Custom Range
  • Sorted by relevance: Sorted by relevance, Sorted by date


Google books may offter the option to search within a book title. Select a book of interest and look for the search box to allow you to search inside the book. The box will appear on the left side of the screen or  above the snippets views.

Other features of google books:

Get  Print Book: links to sellers and Find in a Library


Google Video

 Click on TOOLS to filter your search results.  

Any Duration: short, medium, long

Any Time: hour... year, custom

Any Quality: any or high

All videos: all or close captioned

Any Source: select from varied sources

Google News Archive


 Google Newspapers is no longer adding content to its site but you can still search its archive from this site. Keep in mind the holdings listed are not comprehensive. Many titles have large gaps within the date ranges listed. 

Google Alerts


google alerts

Want to stay up date and learn when new information on your topic goes online? Use Google Alerts.  

Go to  and sign in with your google account.

Enter your term(s) in the alert search box and modify the options as needed. 

Options include: How often, Sources (Automatic, News, Blog, Web and more), Language, Region, How Many