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St. Clair County Community College Library

History 101 Information Literacy - Prof. Frank

Search strategies

Search Strategies

When searching for information, there are a number of techniques to use that will help refine your search results.  You can use these strategies when looking for information from the library databases or from a search engine such as Google.

Phrase Searching and Boolean Operators

Phrase Searching

Put quotation marks " " around phrases to search the term as a phrase. Otherwise the database or Google may separate the words.

"Middle Ages"  "Joan of Arc"   "Neolithic Era"   "Neo-Babylonians"

Boolean Operators

Refine your search results using Boolean operators. The three most common Boolean operators are AND, OR, and NOT, but there are others available. The operators AND and NOT will narrow your search and OR will usually increase your search results. 

AND - Use AND to find resources with all of your search terms.

"Ancient Egypt" AND medicine

Mesopotamia AND "cuneiform writing"

Chaldean AND religion


OR - Use OR to find articles with either search term in them.

"Middle Ages" OR medieval OR "Dark Ages"

"Black Death" OR "bubonic plague"

"Age of Exploration" OR "Age of Discovery"


NOT - Use NOT to eliminate terms you do not want in your search results. 

Cleopatra NOT "Elizabeth Taylor"


Combining Terms - Put parentheses () around the ORs if other Boolean operators are used.     

“Ancient Egypt” AND (art OR "tomb paintings")

Mesopotamia AND (cuneiform OR writing)

("Neo-Babylonian" OR Chaldean") AND music