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Tip #3: Include or Exclude Words in Your Search

Speaking of the words "and" and "or," Google automatically ignores these and other small, common words in your queries. These are called stop words, and include "and," "the," "where," "how," "what," "or" (in all lowercase), and other similar words—along with certain single digits and single letters (such as "a").

Including a stop word in a search normally does nothing but slow the search down, which is why Google excises them. As an example, Google takes the query how a toaster works, removes the words "how" and "a," and creates the new, shorter query toaster works.

If you want these common words included in your query, you can override the stop word exclusion by telling Google that it must include specific words in the query. You do this with the + operator, in front of the otherwise excluded word. For example, to include the word "how" in your query, you’d enter +how. Be sure to include a space before the + sign, but not after it.

On the other hand, sometimes you want to refine your results by excluding pages that include a specific word. You can exclude words from your search by using the - operator; any word in your query preceded by the - sign is automatically excluded from the search results. Remember to always include a space before the - sign, and none after.

For example, if you search for bass, you could get pages about the type of male singer or about the type of fish. If you want to search for the type of singer only, enter a query that looks like this: bass –fish.

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