“If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.” ― Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh
And search you shall! Since your loved one doesn’t have the benefits of unlimited internet and you have access, you will often find yourself in the role of researcher. You will get plenty of questions and assignments, so perhaps some of these Google research tips will make your queries easier.
Tip 1: The Tabs
On the top of the page of every search, you will find several tabs like those shown above. Usually, you’ll see All, Images, News, and More. Using these tabs, you can narrow your results into a more useful search. For example, once the results page is displayed for the search “Time off of a prison sentence for education,” you could click on the News tab and see the latest news on that topic. Videos will give you videos to watch on the subject.
Tip 2: Quotes
The interesting thing to consider is that when you type in a search phrase, the engine will search for content that contains every word in any order.
If you are searching for something specific, try using quotes to minimize the guesswork for Google search. When you put your search parameters in quotes, it tells the search engine to search for the whole phrase in order.
Tip 3: The asterisk
This one is handy and a real time-saver, especially when you are helping someone who is incarcerated with their legal research. Here’s how it works:
When you use an asterisk in a search term on Google search, it will leave a placeholder that may be automatically filled by the search engine later. This is a brilliant way to find legislation if you don’t know all the words.
That search may look confusing. However, Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word. In many circumstances, your loved one may tell you that everyone is mentioning some legislation, but they don’t remember the bill’s full title. The search above would quickly fill in the missing item, and you would soon know it was the Strengthening Social Connections act being discussed.
Tip 4: Find sites that are similar to other sites
Let’s say you find a website that is useful for you and your partner. It may even become a favorite website. It can be anything, just type it in using the following format: Related: indeed.com.
If you search that above, you won’t find a link to Indeed jobs. Instead, you’ll find links to numerous job sites like Indeed. This is a powerful Google search tool and will lead you to many new sites. Your incarcerated loved one will eventually ask you how you are finding all of these useful websites.
Tip 5: Refine your search
Sometimes no matter how perfect you think you have phrased your search, you won’t get the results you want. The best approach is to start simple and then keep adding specifics.
The search started simple enough but continued to grow from words that came up in the results and helped to refine things.
Tip 6. Search news archives going back to the mid-1880s
Google News has an option to search over 100 years of archived news from newspapers around the world. This is very useful for legal research, classwork, and it is fun. Use the Google News Archive Search to see the many newspapers you can search.
Tip 7. Compare legal terms
Compare anything you want. Sometimes we need to see the difference between two terms, mostly when your partner is confused in school or with their legal case. You can easily accomplish this quickly if you use the vs. option.
There are many more search techniques available, but if you get to know these 7 tips, you will become a much more effective researcher. You can always hone your skills to help your loved one with whatever they are working on at the prison.
Offering this type of assistance helps connect you two. When they look in the mail and see you have included a few pages from some Google searches you conducted, they will know that it was undertaken thoughtfully.
A final tip is not to worry about little things. Google spell checker automatically fixes errors and will recognize capitalization whether you use it or not. In the future, we can look at some advanced searching if you think it may help. You can always let us know by dropping us a note.