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English: Basic Search Strategies

Break Down Your Research Question into Keywords

The words you type into the search box affect your search results. Not all authors use the same language to describe similar topics, so you will need to try a variety of searches.

  • Create a list of possible words that could appear in a book or article related to your topic.
  • Come up with synonyms or related terms.
  • Stick to using 2-4 concepts at a time.

Connect Keywords with Boolean Operators

Operator Example
AND joins dissimilar terms. It helps narrow your search. vegetarian AND moraility
OR joins similar terms. It helps broaden your search.

vegetarian OR vegan OR plant-based

Use AND & OR together, as well.

vegetarian OR vegan OR plant-based


morality OR ethics

Use Quotation Marks to Find Phrases

  • United States
  • “meat industry”
  • "political propaganda"

Find Different Word Variations with Truncation

The asterisk * is the most common truncation symbol.

  • Latin* = Latin, Latino, Latina, Latinidad, Latinx, etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. Sometimes you might get unexpected results.

  • minor*= minor, minors, minority, minorities, etc.

How Library Stuff Works: How to Choose Keywords

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies