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Parentheses and Nested Searches

Some search engines allow you to create more complex queries by grouping AND, OR, NOT, and NEAR statements using parentheses. For example, you could use a search like Canton NEAR (Ohio OR OH) to find any reference to Canton, Ohio, whether the state name is spelled out in full or abbreviated.

You can even create what are called nested searches, which can get quite complex, with one search statement nested within another: Canton NEAR ((Ohio OR OH) AND ("Pro Football" NEAR "Hall of Fame")).

Our advice is to use parentheses in your searches sparingly, and only when you really need them. Complex nested searches are fine for the professionals. But for most search tasks, and especially for new online searchers, they're not worth the mental NEAR ((energy OR effort) AND aggravation)!

You'll be far better off concentrating on coming up with good, unique keywords and sticking to simple combinations using AND, OR, NOT, and (possibly) NEAR searches. The entry Canton AND "Pro Football" AND "Hall of Fame", for example, is much more straightforward (and less error prone) than the complex nested search presented earlier and will very likely lead you to a page like the one shown in Figure 3.9 , which is probably just what you hoped to find.

03fig09.gif

Figure 3.9 It doesn't take a complicated nested search to find the Web site for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

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