Enhance Your Google Searching with AROUND

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The value of proximity searching has been well documented on the Intellogist® Blog. Proximity operators allow users to specify a distance (of n terms) between any two keywords, and this feature is a bedrock of many commercial patent search systems.

Google is known in prior art search circles as the excellent and innovative provider of Google Patents, Google Books, and Google Scholar.

What do these two topics have to do with each other? Well, like getting chocolate in my peanut butter, all Google systems have the hidden ability to do proximity searching.

Read on to find out more about this useful searching tip!

Mary Ellen Bates alerted us to this operator in her April 2011 InfoTip Newsletter. We’ve since discovered, that despite not making the syntax publicly known, other people have noticed that Google has had proximity searching for the past 5 or 6 years.

While this hidden search syntax might not be useful to the average Joe querying Google for nacho recipes, it’s a boon for prior art searchers. We know that proximity searching is important to weed out false positive results that may contain two important keywords pages apart but have nothing to do with the desired topic.

To use proximity searching in any Google product (Search, Books, Scholar, and even Patents), simply use the AROUND(n) syntax between keywords, wherein “n” is the maximum number of terms between the two keywords. For example, “detector AROUND(5) multiplier” (without the quotation marks) would return results that necessarily had detector and multiplier within 5 words of each other. Make sure to capitalize AROUND, or else Google will think it’s a keyword!

Google Books using AROUND

The results of this Google Books search bold the "keyword in context" excerpt that contains the proximity match.

It’s simple tricks like these that can make a world of difference, turning 10 pages of unwieldy and inaccurate results into a tidy sum of relevant patents.

Do you know of any other neat Google tricks? We’d love to hear about them in our comments below!

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Intellogist Team member Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.


2 Responses

  1. […] I have been complaining about, namely proximity operators in Google Patents, has actually been around for some time, and having recently tried it out, it even works (really well, actually). I’m still unsure of […]

  2. […] Source: The Intellogist Blog (anglais) […]

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