Search cheatsheets and guides – the 2012 list (so far)

Search tools are constantly changing and there are, let’s face it, a million ways to search for information online. There’s also a healthy debate around library search’s reliance on Boolean operators and other specialist (and often legacy) techniques. We still have a ways to go until we’ve found the perfect balance between simplicity and advanced techniques in web searching (and, incidentally, if you’re interested in this area I recommend Dave Pattern’s posts about University of Huddersfield’s experiences with Summon).

I used to use various search cheatsheets in training but lost track after Google’s umpteenth search update so I was happy to stumble upon a bunch of new guides to search engines. Like all lists on this blog, this is a work in progress and suggestions are welcome.

Daniel Russell is a research scientist at Google and recently gave a talk to a group of investigative journalists about smart Google search techniques John Tedesco, an investigative reporter, has written these up in a handy summary on his blog.

Possibly as a result of the large amount of interest Tedesco’s post generated, Google have now announced a series of online search classes. 

And if Google is not your data-mining bag of chips there’s also these handy guide to Duck Duck Go’s search shortcuts on

Wolfram Alpha remains a specialist search tool and I haven’t really seen a comprehensive starter guide to it in my travels. The knowledge base has a *lot* of helpful examples to refer to though. In my experience, the dictionary search results are far superior to the ones returned on Google and I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons to use it for non-statistical searches so I’m on the lookout for an introductory guide to add to the list.

Like I mentioned above, this is a list in progress so any new guides discovered will be added (there are plenty of search tools not yet covered). If you’ve found any guides that you’d like to share, feel free to add them in the comments.

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