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The Essentials of Google Custom Search

Doing a search is easy. Simply type one or more search terms (the words or phrase that best describe the information you want to find) into the search box and hit the 'Enter' key or click on the "Find It" button.

In response, Google produces a results page: a list of web pages related to your search terms, with the most relevant page appearing first, then the next, and so on.

Choosing search terms

Choosing the right search terms is the key to finding the information you need.

Start with the obvious – if you're looking for general information on permits, try Permits.

But it's often advisable to use multiple search terms; if you're looking for information on Hunting Licenses, you'll do better with hunting license than with either Hunting or License by themselves. And deer hunting license may produce even better (or, depending on your perspective, worse) results.

You might also ask yourself if your search terms are sufficiently specific. It's better to search on deer hunting license than on shooting game. But choose your search terms carefully; Google looks for the search terms you chose, so deer hunting laws will probably deliver better results than laws about shooting animals in the woods.


Google searches are NOT case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for state parks, State Parks, and StAtE pArKs will all return the same results.

Automatic "and" queries

By default, Google 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 learn more about teacher/student conservation efforts, simply type conservation education.

"+" search

This search ignores common words and characters such as where, the, how, and other digits and letters which slow down your search without improving the results. We'll indicate if a 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.)

For example, here's how to ensure that your search includes the "1" in a search for EPA Region 1:

~ OR ~
put quotation marks around the phrase: "EPA Region 1"

Synonym search

If you want to search not only for your search term but also for its synonyms, place the tilde sign ("~") immediately in front of your search term.

For example, here's how to search for fishing license and permit information:

"OR" search

To find pages that include either of two search terms, add an uppercase OR between the terms.

For example, here's how to search for information about Hunting OR Fishing:


water quality   the words water and quality .
Hunting OR Fishing   either the word Hunting or the word Fishing
"Clean and Clear "   the exact phrase Clean and Clear
watersupply   the word water but NOT the word supply
~waste water   the words waste water and its synonyms: wastewater etc.
vermont * board   the words Vermont and Board separated by one or more words.

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