This article about how to use Google as a research tool was written to help you make the most of Google in your work as a translator. This is the first of two articles related to this topic; the second will be released in a week.
As a freelance translator, it is likely that you are very busy and want to save as much time possible, while doing your work without compromising its quality. In order to do this, we are providing you with some helpful tips on how to use Google as a research tool. Whether you are looking to search for the meaning of a certain acronym or technical word, or are looking up the manual of a product, listed below are some basic search operators you can utilise to help you maximise Google's usefulness as a research tool:
- Quotation marks (“”) — [“key phrase”]
Using quotation marks before and after your search terms prompts Google to search through its database for the exact sentence as opposed to any combination of the words. For example, the search [“cartography glossary”] will yield only results with the words in that exact order.
- Logical operator ‘or’ (OR) — [keyword1 OR keyword2]
By default, Google uses all the words typed in the search box. That said, it is necessary to use this operator if you wish results to be shown with either of the keywords you type. Note that OR must be typed in all caps: e.g. the search [“hoover manual” OR “vacuum cleaner manual”] will yield results for manuals of both Hoovers and vacuum cleaners.
- Minus sign (-) — [keyword1 -keyword2]
This search operator can be used if you wish to eliminate results that contain a particular term. For example, the search [“computer terminology” -wikipedia] will yield results containing the phrase “computer terminology” that are not found within Wikipedia.
- Plus sign (+) — [keyword1 +keyword2]
Using the plus sign tells Google that you want results to include all the keywords you have typed, without exception. For example, the search [glossary +spanish +legal] will yield results that contain the three keywords glossary, Spanish and legal.
- Asterisk (*) — [“keyword1 * keyword2”]
Google recognises the asterisk or ‘wildcard’ operator as a placeholder. This comes in handy when searching for a phrase (always between quotation marks) that matches one or more words. For example, the search [“manual of * construction”] will find manuals from different types of construction—road construction, building construction, etc.
- Tilde (~) — [~keyword]
This search operator prompts Google to return results of the specific keyword you typed along with its synonyms or alternative endings. For example, the search [architecture ~thesaurus] will yield results of architecture thesaurus and thesauri, dictionaries, glossaries, etc.
Tips for Translators: How to Use Google as a Research Tool (I)