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St. Clair County Community College Library

ENG 101 Information Literacy Program Prof. Ruth

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.

"social media"     "minimum wage"     "Generation Y"     "Port Huron"

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.

“climate change” AND economics

“business plans” AND “food industry”

"college students" AND "study skills"


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

"Generation Y" OR millennials

restaurants OR “food industry”

"e-commerce" OR "online shopping"


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

graffiti NOT "American Graffiti"


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

“college students” AND (“eating disorders” OR anorexia OR bulimia)

Advanced Search Strategies - More Examples

More Examples of Advanced Searching