Step 1: Develop a TopicToggle DropdownStep 2: Locate InformationToggle DropdownStep 3: EvaluateToggle DropdownStep 4: WriteToggle DropdownStep 5: CiteToggle Dropdown

Are you finding too much or not enough information? Try using boolean operators and truncation symbols, or use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.

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To retrieve the most relevant search results, you will need to construct a search string.

A search string is a combination of keywords, truncation symbols, and boolean operators you enter intothe search box of a library database or search engine.

Example: educat* AND student* gives results that include "education, educator, educating" and "student, students".

Use the information on this page to help you construct effective search strings.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are connector words, such as AND, OR, and NOT, that are used to combine or exclude words in a search string for more focused results.


business AND ethicscooking AND Spain

Results containALL of the search terms.

hotels OR motelswww OR world wide webtheater OR theatre

Results contain ANY of the search terms, but not necessarily all of them.

java NOT coffeeClinton NOT Bill

Excludes results containingthe second search term.


Truncation or wildcard symbols allow you to look for variations of words. They often broaden your search results.

For example, searching on sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, sporty, etc.

Note: The truncation symbol varies by database. Consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages for details.

What You Should Know About Databases

Databases are different from Google.Databases are pickier about spelling.Databases don't automatically truncate.Use a database's Advanced Search option to enter search strings with Boolean operators and truncations.Avoid natural language; use keywords, subject headings or prompts.

Find more tips on the Using Databases guide.

This video will help you learn more about using databases: Searching Databases

Search Strategy Builder

Here's an example of a search. Let's say you're doing research on the effects of poverty in high school education. First, think of keywords that relate to your topic.


Next, go to Advanced Search and use "OR" to string together these synonymous terms (box 1): education OR schooling OR learning

Use "AND" to connect the first concept with another concept (box 2).

If you need material on both sides of the topic, add "controversy OR debate" (box 3).

Google Search Strategies

For more advanced

searching tips, visit their Inside Search site.

Search StrategiesExamples
Queries are not case sensitive.

Barack Obama and barack obama produce the same results.

Results will typically include each word or punctuation mark included in the query. Some stop words orexceptions apply.

Keep queries descriptive, but use as few terms as possible. Avoid natural language.

Use colorado statehood instead ofwhen did colorado first become a state.

Google automatically truncates search terms.To prevent this, use a + sign in front of each term.

Aquery on child retrives results with "children" and "childcare".

Use double quotations marks (" ")to search termsas an exact phrase.

A query on "Barack Hussein Obama II" will retrieve only those sites that refer to Obama by his fullname. Sites that refer to him as simply "Barack Obama" may be overlooked.

Use the site: feature to limit your results to a specific website or class of websites.

The query cloning will only retrieve articles about cloning from the online version of the Wall Street Journal. A query on cloning will only retrieve results within the government domain.

To allow for either of several words to appear in your results, use the OR operator. The operator must be in all caps.

See more: How Many Protons Are In A Hydrogen Atom Ic Structure, The Isotopes Of Hydrogen

A query on hotel OR lodging OR inn will retrieve results with any or all of these terms.