Tips for Receiving More Precise Results with Keyword Sites try AltaVista at:

1. Use an exact phrase

If you know an exact phrase, put the phrase in quotes, for example: "House of Parliament".

2. Search for Web pages in a specific language.

Using the Language drop-down menu in the search box. You can find all the documents on the Web about a given topic, written only in the language you specify. This type of search excludes Web sites written in any other language. Note: this feature is only available for web page searches. Example: If you select French in the language drop-down menu when searching for escargot, you will see pages written in only in French and including the word escargot.

3. Use lowercase text in your searches.

When you use lowercase text, the search service finds both uppercase and lowercase results. When you use uppercase text, the search service only finds uppercase results. Example: When you search for yorkshire, you'll find Yorkshire, yorkshire, and YORKSHIRE in your result pages. However, when you search for Yorkshire, you'll only see Yorkshire in the result pages.

4. Include or exclude words.

To make sure that a word is always included in your search, place a plus sign (+) immediately before the keyword (no spaces) in the search box. To make sure that a word is always excluded from your search, place a minus sign (-) immediately before the keyword (no spaces) in the search box. Example: To find recipes for chocolate cookies without chips, try recipe cookie +chocolate -chips.

5. Use wildcards.

By typing an asterisk (*) at the end of a keyword, you can search for multiple forms of the word. Example: Try big*, to find big, bigger, biggest, and bigwig

6. Use special characters and punctuation.

AltaVista Search defines a word as any combination of letters and numbers that is separated by any of the following: White space, such as spaces, tabs, line ends, or the start or end of a document. Special characters and punctuation, such as %, $, /, #, and _. AltaVista interprets punctuation as a separator for words. Placing punctuation or a special character between each word (with no spaces between the characters and the words) is another way to indicate a phrase. Example: Entering Jean-Luc Picard is easier than entering "Jean Luc" Picard, which is also acceptable, but requires more keystrokes. Hyphenated words, such as x-files, are also considered phrases because of the hyphen. Note: If you do use special characters to indicate phrases, be careful to avoid *, +, and -, since they perform unique functions (see above). You may decide only to use double quotes in your phrases to avoid confusion.

7. What are Boolean Expressions?

Boolean expressions are words like OR, AND, AND NOT, and NEAR. These can be used to create relationships among the keywords in your search query. Parentheses ( ) can also be used in the Boolean query box to group expressions similar to the way you would group mathematical functions. Below is a list of expressions with their corresponding symbol (you may use either) and function.

peanut AND butter
Finds documents with both the word peanut and the word butter.

peanut OR butter
Finds documents containing at least one of the specified words or phrases.
peanut AND NOT butter
Excludes documents containing the specified word or phrase butter. NOT must be used with another operator like AND. AltaVista does not accept 'peanut NOT butter'; instead, specify peanut AND NOT butter.
peanut NEAR butter
Finds documents containing both specified words or phrases within 10 words of each other. Peanut NEAR butter would find documents with peanut butter, but probably not any other kind of butter.
(peanut AND butter) and (jelly OR jam)
Use parentheses to group complex Boolean phrases. For example, (peanut AND butter)and (jelly OR jam) finds documents with the words 'peanut butter and jelly' or 'peanut butter and jam' or both.

An Example

Search for: farm

Result: This will find any article that contains this key word and possibly relating to the farming of: pigs, sheep, cattle, wheat, poultry, etc. Each resource will need to be checked to establish its relevance to the information quest.

Narrow (More Specific) Search

Search for: farm AND dairy

Result: Will only find resources that include both terms. This is the most specific and best search initially.

Search for: farm AND NOT sheep

Result: Will find any kind of farming except sheep farming. This can be a useful way of limiting the retrieval of irrelevant resources but should be used very carefully, as it is possible to exclude relevant resources. With the above example of the use of 'not', a researcher looking for diary farms would not find those sites where farms have both dairy cattle and sheep.

Broader (More General) Search

If no resources are located with a narrow search, the scope of the research can be made broader by using the linking term 'or' and word truncation.

Search for: sheep OR diary

Result:Will return resources that mention either term. This is often useful if the searcher is looking for resources on a topic that can be described by several synonymous terms.

Search for: farm*

Result:Will return any words beginning with 'farm',including 'farming', farmer', 'farms'. Look for online 'help' sections invest* will also find invest, investments, investing and investigate. Sites with an advanced search option, such as Alta Vista, usually have a help button that describes how such searches should be performed.

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