The Basics of WebSearch

To enter a query, type in a few descriptive words and press Enter (or click the Search button) for a list of relevant web pages. Since WebSearch only returns web pages that contain all the words in your query, refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. Your new query will return a smaller subset of the pages WebSearch found for your original "too-broad" query.

Choosing Keywords

For best results, it's important to choose your keywords wisely. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Try the obvious first. If you're looking for information on Picasso, enter "Picasso" rather than "painters".
  • Use words likely to appear on a site with the information you want. "Luxury hotel dubuque" gets better results than "really nice places to spend the night in Dubuque".
  • Make keywords as specific as possible. "Antique lead soldiers" gets more relevant results than "old metal toys".

Automatic "and" Queries

By default, WebSearch only returns pages that include all of your search terms. There is no need to include "and" between terms. Keep in mind that the order in which the terms are typed will affect the search results. To restrict a search further, just include more terms. For example, to plan a vacation to Hawaii, simply type:

Automatic Exclusion of Common Words

WebSearch ignores common words and characters such as "where" and "how", as well as certain single digits and single letters, because they tend to slow down your search without improving the results. WebSearch will indicate if a common word has been excluded by displaying details on the results page below the search box.

If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can include it by putting a "+" sign in front of it. (Be sure to include a space before the "+" sign.)

Another method for doing this is conducting a phrase search, which means putting quotation marks around two or more words. Common words in a phrase search (e.g., "where are you") are included in the search.

For example, to search for Star Wars, Episode I, use:

~ OR ~


Searches are NOT case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for "george washington", "George Washington", and "gEoRgE wAsHiNgToN" will all return the same results.

Word Variations (Stemming)

To provide the most accurate results, WebSearch does not use "stemming" or support "wildcard" searches. In other words, searches for exactly the words that you enter in the search box. Searching for "book" or "book*" will not yield "books" or "bookstore". If in doubt, try both forms: "airline" and "airlines," for instance.