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Word limits are tough on people searching for quotes

.....and you can quote me on that.



2:12 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's been said that if you need more than 10 terms in a search (when you hit Google's limit), you should adjust your query. In general I agree with this, but I've found it increasingly being a restriction when searching for quotes.

The problem when searching for quotes is they _need_ to have their "common" words included to be able to refine the search properly. This is normally done with the quotation marks (strangely enough ;)) These quotes may only be seven or eight words long, but all the words count in the tally. Trying to find a page with a quote in a certain context by adding words outside the quote is suddenly limited to two or three. Not always enough.

The processing power to refine the results would be very small after they have already reduced the number of pages with the first 10. Even an increase to 12 or 15 would offer a significant usability improvement IMO.

Do other people find the ten word limit a problem when searching Google for quotes (or other searches)?
Is there a technique you use for longer quotes that I'm missing (another SE?, searching within results?)?


Please Be Gentle

9:28 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi Boris
I agree that it is a problem, especially if you are looking for long quotes or error messages. You can use the * wildcard which takes the place of a word, but does not use up one of the 10 words. E.g. instead of saying "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain" which uses 9 words, you can use "The rain * Spain falls * on * plain" which uses 6 words. The * does not have to take the place of a stopword, it can be any word you like, however even with 10 asterisks, the maximum number of terms in the quote would be 20. You could also manipulate the results using the API, but that would probably be overkill for your purposes.
Hope that helps


10:53 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If you're referring to popular quotations, in my experience the Web unfortunately contains numerous minor variations on most quotes you're searching for.

I don't know if this is due to people's innate stupidity and laziness, or to translation issues, or to the source having written/said essentially the same thing several times over the course of a career, or to me misremembering the quotation I am looking for, or what. Probably combinations of all of the above.

Thus I would usually start out with an exact-phrase search but frequently have to scale that back to various combinations of phrases and keywords.

The hardest part is often determining where quotations are taken from, and which of several versions can be considered authoritative.


11:09 pm on Jul 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

There's a site out there that has a lot of online books and one with famous quotes could be one of them if it's an older classic.

Got it, try this:



12:37 am on Jul 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for your contribution guys, great stuff. PBG that's an interesting work-around, and one I'll use. I run a lot of searches on error codes / messages too which is another sort of quote I guess.

Jomaxx yep I find that too, but I see the 10 word limit as restrictive when refining the quote rather than expanding it usually. The 10 word limit feels like more when you don't have to include the common words.

Marcia, I tend to look up current day issues where I have a direct quote rather than for the older ones though. The limit is just as valid for the historical quotes as well though.



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