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Writing 10 (Contreras): Keywords

College Reading & Composition

How Many Keywords Should You Use?

Keywords Activity

  • Using the white sheet of paper and marker next to your computer, write down your research question and underline the key concepts. (Hint: focus on the nouns.)
  • Then switch papers with someone sitting next to you.
  • Your partner will come up with a variety of keywords related to the concepts you underlined and write them down for you.

Identify Keywords

Identify the key concepts in your research question and/or topic:

Will social media's use of facial recognition destroy privacy?

Brainstorm for related terms that researchers or reporters might use in the articles they write.

"social media"

  • "social networks"
  • Facebook
  • Snapchat

"facial recognition" 

  • "pattern recognition"
  • "face recognition"
  • "feature extraction"
  • "face tracking"
  • "face detection"


  • "internet privacy"
  • "internet security"
  • "data security"
  • "personal information"
  • "network security"

Tips for Finding Keywords

  • Use a visual thesaurus like GraphWords. Snappy Words, Visuwords, or CREDO's MindMap.
  • Use reference sources like Credo Reference to get background information and keywords.
  • When you find a useful article, look at the article's Subject Headings, and record them as possible search terms to use in a subject term search (you'll learn what these are later today) or keyword search. Sometimes the author will also add their own keywords, which are underneath the subject headings as Author-Supplied Keywords.