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Ever wondered just how well you understand Google Search?

Friday October 30 2020
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Knowing how to use Google Search is a powerful tool and an essential 21st-century skill. PHOTO | FILE

Knowing how to use Google Search is a powerful tool and an essential 21st-century skill that will serve you well in finding, organising, and leveraging information faster and more reliably—thereby increasing productivity and improving your quality of life online.

Learning to search is a useful art. Digital literacy favours those who are curious, willing to experiment, and change. Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and impactful.

Every secret

Odds are you use Google search regularly, if not daily. But just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you know its every secret. Everyone knows how to “Google,” but not everyone Googles efficiently.

Even the most seasoned Googlers might not know every tip and trick available with just a few extra keystrokes in the search bar. Those tips could save you time on the net and increase your productivity by helping you get what you want out of the trillions of pages indexed by the search engine.

You can ask for the weather in whatever town you want, get a definition of a word and do weight conversions and find exchange rates for different currencies with ease by just by typing your question on the Google search bar.

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First, you need to understand the basics Google search engine ignores capitalisation, and spelling mistakes. Google has a built-in spellchecker, so don’t worry about making sure you have the correct spelling.

Google will default to the most common spelling of your search query, even if you misspell it. Not only does Google not pay attention to capitalisation, it ignores punctuation as well. The searches must be kept simple.

Some important basics include typing the word “define” before any word. Doing so will get you a definition of that word, neatly spelled out.

This is pretty useful when you read everything online or when editing a document and you are not so sure about some of the words.

In the olden days, students had to go to the library and look for information in books to do research papers. Now, you can just do a Google book (www.books.goggle.com) search for anything that’s relevant, copy quotes, and pull up all the information needed for your bibliography.

You could use Google’s advanced book search for options like book language, author, publication dates, and more. In the search results, you can also click on “search tools” to filter books by those that are available with a preview, select books or magazines, and filter or sort by date.

Public domain books can be downloaded as PDFs, and out of copyright or books with author/publisher permission are fully viewable. You can search inside books, too, and have your search phrase highlighted, as well as add books to your library for future reference.

Additionally, when you search for a title, Google’s book overview page will list popular ,passages, a word cloud, bibliographic information, and other reference information.

Google Scholar

Finally, learn how to use Google Scholar to find peer-reviewed journals, patents, and more – which is particularly important for researchers.

In addition, Google can also be used as a calculator, dictionary, unit converter, currency conversion and more.

Along with these, it is equally helpful for checking weather conditions, stock quotes, time, as a timer, checking sports scores, dictionary look up, synonym search, etc. Simply, type your question on the search bar.

Google Search has an incredibly deep query language with dozens of options that allow you to filter and refine your searches. By exploring and experimenting with the basics of search, you will become more efficient in accessing and making use of the world’s information.

Search is a useful skill every critical thinker must learn to improve independent learning.

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Sam Wambugu is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. [email protected]