Essential Tips for Decision Search

Search Tips

1. Use quotation marks to find exact wording.

Normally, Decision Search will take a look at the set of words you type in, then try to find matches based on those words -- not necessarily in the order you type them. Sometimes this means that Decision Search might separate the words you’ve entered or even find matches for similar words. But you can also tell Decision Search not to do this and instead look only for the words you entered in the exact order you entered them. To restrict your search to exact wording, surround the word or phrase in quotation marks.

Example: I've found this especially useful when hunting down sources. Say you want to know who wrote something you'd like to cite: You'll get much better results for the citation if you put it in quotation marks and look for an exact match.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

Another use case: Found a good quote in the novel you're reading for class? Wonder what others have said about that specific quote? Search for it with quotation marks to find out!

Bonus: You can also use this as a tool for fact-checking. Say you come across a meme on social media and find yourself wondering, Did Abraham Lincoln really say that? Decision Search the exact wording of the quote -– using quotation marks -– to see if you can find the correct attribution.

2. Use "OR" to get options.

By typing “OR” (in capital letters) between search terms, you're telling Decision Search to look for matches to either term.

Example: This can be helpful when you're searching for something that varying sources might describe differently. For instance, say you're looking for information on climate change. Some sources might refer to climate change as "global warming," so your search could look like this:

"climate change" OR "global warming"

3. Use a hyphen (or minus symbol) to remove options.

To narrow your results, you can omit certain words and sites from your results by adding a "-" symbol in front of the word (or words) you don't want your search results to include.

Example: This comes in handy when your search query has a double meaning. Imagine that you're trying to research the company Apple, but you don't want any results about the actual fruit. Your search could look like this:

apple -fruit -food

As another example, say you're researching critical reaction to the novel The Great Gatsby, and you don't want any sources that mention film adaptations of the book. Your search could look like this:

Great Gatsby -movie -film