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.
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" "Port Huron"
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.
“climate change” AND "national security"
“business plans” AND restaurants
"college students" AND "study habits"
"Blue Water Area" OR "Thumb Coast"
colleges OR universities
restaurants OR “food industry”
ecommerce OR "online shopping"
graffiti NOT "American Graffiti"
“college students” AND sleep AND ("cell phone" OR texting)
marketing AND (restaurants OR "food industry")
Put quotation marks around words that you want to search as a phrase.
“Harlem Renaissance” “Yellow Wallpaper” “Route 66”
Shorten terms and add an asterisk * to search for all forms of the root word.
symbol* = symbol + symbols + symbolism
Use Boolean operators to refine your search results.
AND - Use AND to find articles with all of your search terms.
irony AND "Three Strangers"
“Harlem Renaissance” AND “women writers”
Plath AND metaphor
“Road Not Taken” AND symbolism
OR - Use OR to find articles that have either search term in them.
irony OR sarcasm OR satire
"Le Guin" OR LeGuin
Chekov OR Chekhov
Put parentheses () around your ORs if other Boolean operators are present.
(irony OR sarcasm OR satire) AND Hardy
"Three Strangers" AND (irony OR sarcasm OR satire)
NOT - Use NOT to eliminate terms you do not want in your search results.
irony AND Hardy NOT "Three Strangers"
Limit your Google results by adding the following to your search string:
For U.S. Government sites: site:.gov
For educational institutions: site:.edu
Example: "Middle Ages" AND women AND site:.gov