Get Around with Google

One of my long time complaints about searching on the Web has been the inability to really control word proximity.  You can search in the major legal research databases by looking for words within the same sentence (term /s term) or paragraph (term /p term) or within a certain number of words (term /# term).  But that hasn’t been the case on the Web.

I’ve already talked about how Bing uses the near: operator to control proximity search on Bing.com.  I came across a tip today on how to use proximity search using the AROUND operator.  It works like the specific number proximity search (/#) where # is the number of words separating your terms.  A legal research proximity search

passenger /4 handgun

becomes

passenger AROUND(4) handgun

Like so many of the Web search engine tips, it’s easy to use and remember.  Two things to keep in mind.  First,  it needs to be UPPERCASE to work, so if your search result shows it lowercase, it’s using AROUND as a word, not an operator.

Second, when I tried the search in the search box on Google.ca, Google.com, and Google.com SSL, the search worked.  When I searched from the Web browser (Firefox and Chrome), the search only worked on Google.com and Google.com SSL; Google.ca converted AROUND to lowercase.  If you find that the proximity search isn’t working, you may want to go to the search engine to execute the search (or force Google.com as your default search provider by going to http://www.google.com/ncr (no country redirect)).

[Via Lifehacker; also Google Operating System Blog]

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