Putting Together your Search Terms

Script of video:

Once you have a list of words or phrases related to your topic, you need to enter them into whatever database or search engine you’re using in the correct order, using the correct syntax.

Put quotes around phrases, that is, search terms that include more than one word. Most search engines will recognize this, and will give you more relevant search results. Put an asterisk (or star) at the end of words that could have multiple endings. For example, searching for super* will come back with words beginning with super and ending with anything.

If you’re looking for terms with more than one spelling, like Don Quixote, use a question mark, which acts as a wildcard, in place of the letter in question.

Now, take your first group of search terms, and group them together with the word “OR” in between each one of them. The more words you OR, the more results you’ll get. Do this for the other groups of terms as well. Put the word “AND” between each group of search terms. You can do this in just about any search engine. Sometimes, the AND is included in the search engine.

Finally, you may be able to limit your search results by date of publication, language, source type, or other options. For more assistance, visit a Library Research Help desk.

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