Google Tip: Backwards and Forwards

Last weekend when I was in St. Louis, I chatted with someone who was at a computer next to me.  She was painstakingly googling people by typing in the name she wanted several different ways, then looking at the results individually, like this:

“John Smith”

and then

“Smith, John” (because  if people are in some sort of index, they’ll usually be last name first)

and then

“John H. Smith”

and then

“John Harry Smith”

It was painful to watch.  If you’re doing that, stop.  You can search all of the ways John might appear at once by doing it in one fell swoop, like this:

“John Smith” OR “Smith, John” OR “John H. Smith” OR “John Harry Smith”

The “OR” allows you to add in multiple options (as long as you capitalize it—so make sure you do).  The quotes help you find John Smith rather than John Jones and Joe Smith.  If you don’t know the middle name of the person, but want to make sure you don’t miss him, use an asterisk in the middle, like this:  “John * Smith.”  That’s a wildcard, so it will pull all of the John Smiths with middle names or initials.  That way you can inspect each and every one of them yourself.  Lucky you!

If you’re not googling your ancestors, you should start right now.  Not everything is on the genealogy sites, and you might be amazed at what you find.

This is the second in an occasional series on how to use Google to find people.  They’ll get more advanced as time goes on, so if you already knew this one, you get a gold star…and stay tuned for more!

Photo by bradleypjohnson

Get more stuff like this

Don't miss a thing. Subscribe to new posts via email.

2 Responses

  1. Amy Boland 5 years ago
  2. Matt Quinn 5 years ago

Add Comment

2604811407_0a9328103f_o
BREAKING: Clue Wagon is Now a Dating Website
4482942978_c4347b15fe_z
Ancestor Hate Mail
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
8409353231_68d3062177_z
Confession: I’m a GeneaFreak in My Sleep
4400388995_af65ba1fae_z
Can We Stop Calling Grandma a Whore?
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
5027161428_f762af4ce5_z
Why Don’t People Post Public Family Trees?
3366720659_b746789dfd_z
Confession: I Hate Free Genealogy Stuff
Family History Library Visitor Tips
9 Things You Need To Know Before You Go to RootsTech/FGS
1594411528_1512b1aad5_z
How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity
nelson-scheiber-wedding-minneapolis
Guerrilla Genealogy: Hunting Down Wedding Guests
4212380812_a008fbbf06_z
Dead People, Dead People, Dead People, SQUIRREL!
Mad-Men-DNA-Genealogy
How Mad Men Will Really End—With a Shaky Leaf
7464252264_a12645770a_k
Why Your DNA Test Results Are Wrong
Horrified Senior Woman
Clue: Your Ancestry Username and Your Pee-Oh-R-N Username Should Not Be The Same
4400388995_af65ba1fae_z
Can We Stop Calling Grandma a Whore?
7512877940_2720e3be12_z
Want a Full Refund on Your NewspaperArchive.com Subscription? Just Ask About Their Charity.
3366720659_b746789dfd_z
Confession: I Hate Free Genealogy Stuff
250436252_11e6b00028_z
O Come, All Ye Drama Llamas
6587951925_169aa0d54f_z
Is Making Money From Your Blog Still a Thing?
4482942978_c4347b15fe_z
Ancestor Hate Mail
1594411528_1512b1aad5_z
How to Stop Spammers From Stealing Your Facebook Identity
Ancestry DDoS attack
8 Theories on the REAL Reason for the Ancestry.com Outage
7512877940_2720e3be12_z
Want a Full Refund on Your NewspaperArchive.com Subscription? Just Ask About Their Charity.