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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 are fortunate 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 Genealogy 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 All These Words line of Advanced Search you would enter the date range in the following format [1840…1860]. 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 – narrow your search by entering date ranges on the All These Words line of Advanced Search in the form [first year…second years]. The narrower the date range, the fewer records will be returned by Google.


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