Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University Washington and Lee University The University Library

Friends of the Library Research Guide

Better Internet Searching


Whether you use Google, Yahoo!, or MSN, it is important to know the best strategies for using search engines and evaluating their results.  Below are some guidelines for more effective searching:

Be specific!

  • If you are searching for information on cat adoption in Rockbridge County, a search for cats will have you swimming in results.
  • Enter cat adoption Rockbridge to get more specific results.
    • Words such as "in" or "at" will be disregarded by most search engines because they are commonly used
  • If you are searching for a string of words together, in a phrase, use double quotation marks.  (" ")
    • For example, enter "Siamese cats" if you are looking for information regarding only Siamese cats.

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate!

  • Search engines index everything on the web: the good, the bad, and the ugly. 
  • Be sure the website is sponsored by a reputable agency, group, organization, association, etc. 
  • Look for websites ending in .edu, .gov, or .org
    • These are generally sponsored by either government or non-profit agencies and tend not to contain biased information, but you still need to be careful.

Ask a librarian!

  • We are always happy to help patrons with their research, no matter what the topic is.
  • Visit the Reference Department homepage for more information.

Return to Friends of the Library Research Guide