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Search For Unique Identifiers

Searching for a unique identifier is the fastest way to find what you want on the Internet — a unique string of characters likely to be on the pages you are interested in, and likely not to be on pages you aren’t interested in. Phrases are a type of unique identifier, which is why they work so well.

Start any search by looking for any unique strings of characters that can exactly identify the content you are looking for. A few common unique identifiers are listed below:

  • Names. Are there any people with unusual names associated with the content you are searching for? Unusual place names? Organization names, acronyms?

           Giovanni Bellini

  • Titles. Are there any titles associated with the content you are looking for, such as book titles, music songs, research papers, etc., that you can enter as a phrase?

           “Codex Leicester”

  • Numbers. Is there a unique number associated with the content you are searching for? A document number such as an ISBN number, part number, telephone number, unusual street number? (If the number has punctuation in it, then put it in quotes.)


  • Quotations. Do you know an exact quotation associated with the content you are searching for? A unique string of ordinary words many letters long can precisely retrieve topic related content.

           “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive”

  • Other strings. Are there any other kinds of unique identifying characters or numbers associated with the content you are searching for? If you can find any portion of text at all from a document you are looking for, a phrase of five to seven words is usually sufficient to hook the larger text while winnowing out all the chaff.

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