Google: Part 2

Last week’s post offered some introductory tips on using Google’s advanced search features. This week’s post will follow up and offer some insights into how to make the most of the ‘filters’ on the advanced search page.  Don’t forget, there is a longer video tutorial available on the ‘Quick Tip Videos’ page of this blog.

Useful Filters

The ‘then narrow results by’ section of the advanced search page will allow you to apply some filters so you only retrieve certain types of results.

While all of the filters are discussed in our tutorial video, let’s just take a look at two useful options here.

Site or Domain

A personal favorite, this filter (exactly as its name implies) allows you to limit your results to those originating from a specific site or web domain.

Limiting by ‘domain’ gives you the ability to only view webpages from certain types of sites, such as:

  • .gov (government websites and documents)
  • .org (typically non-profit/non-commercial organizations)
  • .edu (webpages affiliated with academic institutions)

This is an excellent way to get rid of some of the more commercial ‘.com’ results and narrow in on pages created by specific entities.  To take advantage of the feature, just plug the domain extension into the appropriate box on the advanced search page like so:

Google domain filter

Click image to enlarge.

Limiting by ‘site’ allows you to only view webpages from a particular website. This is useful if you want to see how a certain site covers a topic, compare coverage between sites, or if there’s just a site you trust and enjoy reading and want to be able to easily search its content.  For example, you could limit to only results found on, or on (Harvard Business Review), etc.

Instead of entering a domain, enter the full website into the search box to take advantage of this option:

Google Site Filter

Click image to enlarge.

Following the example from last week’s post about police violence, I chose to filter the search to only see the New York Times‘ coverage. On the results page, you can easily tell if your filter worked by taking a look at the URL for the webpage just below its title:

Google site filter results page

Click image to enlarge.


File Type

Another handy filter, called ‘file type’, gives you the ability to limit results to certain formats such as:

  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Excel Spreadsheets
  • Word Documents
  • PDF files
  • And more!

Simply plug in your search terms as usual, then select a file type from the drop-down menu:

Google file type filter

Click image to enlarge

Once you run the search it will be easy to see that all of the results are in the format you were looking for:

Google file type filter results

Click image to enlarge

Be sure to spend some time perusing the other available filters to see how they can help you refine your searches even further. And, remember, you can always get in touch with your librarians for further assistance with your research topic.

Library -- the original search engine

Image by Enokson. CC license here.


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