Posted in Cheat Sheets, Genealogy Toolkit

My Cheatsheet for Genealogy Boolean Searches

After blogging about the use of Boolean searches for genealogy, I decided to try and track down a compact cheatsheet or template I could use when searching in Google.  I didn’t come across anything that served my purposes completely, so I made my own.  I thought it might be helpful for others, so have posted it here for you to use. I’m sure my list will change as I work with it more and more, but it is a good starting place.

Using whichever search engine you prefer, just plug in your own data using this punctuation and format, and see what kind of results you get:

Cheatsheet- Genealogy BooleanWhile compiling this list I came across some previously untapped resources in the search results.  I am talking about some high quality original sources that enriched my research and were golden.  I encourage you to come up with your own template, and to mix and match the search terms and compare the number of hits you get.

Too many hits? Try adding additional search terms to your string until you have shaped it and narrowed it to suit you.  Then copy it and add it to your personal template.

To get an idea of how the construction of a search string affects the number of hits that will result, I’ve included a chart that illustrates my own results in one session:

Number of hits with diffferent search strings, by Dayna Jacobs of
Number of hits with different search strings, by Dayna Jacobs (

When using a search engine it is helpful to know a few keyboard shortcuts.  I cannot keep track of more than a few in my head, so am sharing the ones I use most often:

Google keyboard shortcuts for genealogy and other searching, by Dayna Jacobs of
Google keyboard shortcuts for genealogy and other searching, by Dayna Jacobs (

I hope this gives your online searching a boost.  I’d love to hear your success stories!


I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

5 thoughts on “My Cheatsheet for Genealogy Boolean Searches

  1. What a helpful post! I’ve been doing Boolean searches for years and didn’t know many of these shortcuts. Thank you!

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