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How to Enter a Name into Google

In general, when searching for a person you should enter the person’s name on the Exact Phrase line. Remember that it is not case sensitive. However, spelling does count so try a couple of obvious spelling variations on the name to make sure your search is complete.

Also, be aware that many genealogy databases store names as <last name, first name> so if you are looking for [john smith] you should definitely try [smith, john]. Finally, don’t forget to try to search for someone with and without the middle name if you happen to know the middle name.

image of a Google search with exact phrase

Tip – use the Exact Phrase line of Advanced Search and try obvious spelling variations and make sure you try <last name, first name> as in smith, john in your genealogy searches.

How to Narrow Searches to a Specific Date Range

Google allows you to search for a numerical date range. This can be a very handy feature when looking for genealogy records. For example, suppose you were looking for a record for John Smith that you think was born around 1850. You can look for a range around 1850 (say 1840 to 1860).

On the Exact Phrase line of Advanced Search you would enter the name john smith and then on the Numbers Ranging From line of Advanced Search you would enter the date range as shown in the image below. This will pick up everything in Google’s index for John Smith between the years 1840 to 1860 inclusive.

image of a Google search with a specific date range

Tip – Whenever possible, narrow your search by entering date ranges. The narrower the date range, the fewer the number of records that will be returned by Google.

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