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Writing 10 (Silbaugh): Search Tips

Reading & Composition

Research Question to Search Strategy

Quotation Marks

Quotation Marks are used to search for a specific phrase. They limit or narrow your search.

  • "affirmative action"
  • "social media"
  • "political correctness"

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean operators such as AND (narrows) and OR (broadens) are used to join search terms together.

Use OR to broaden your search. For example, if you search advertising OR commercials, you will find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - OR

 

In contrast, use AND and NOT to narrow your search. For example, if you search advertising AND commercials, you will only find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - AND

And, if you search advertising NOT commercials, you will find articles that include the word advertising except for those that also include the term commercials. In Google, use a minus sign instead of NOT (e.g. advertising -commercials).

Boolean - NOT

Truncation

Truncation allows a search engine to look for variant endings of a word. Use a symbol (* is the most common) at the end of a truncated word. Truncation broadens or expands your search.

  • educat* will search for education, educator, educating, etc.
  • colleg* finds college, collegium, collegial
  • politic* will search for politic, politics, political, politicly, etc.

Some databases also allow you to use a symbol at the beginning or in the middle of a word

  • col*r will search for color or colour
  • *politic will search overpolitic, prepolitic, pseudopolitic, etc.