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ENG 101 Information Literacy Program Dr. Bryzik

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

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"

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 "national security"

“business plans” AND restaurants

"college students" AND "study habits"


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


"Blue Water Area" OR "Thumb Coast"

colleges OR universities

restaurants OR “food industry”

ecommerce OR "online shopping"


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


graffiti NOT "American Graffiti"


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


“college students” AND sleep AND ("cell phone" OR texting)

marketing AND (restaurants OR "food industry") 




Limiting Google Results to Specific Domains

Limit your Google results by adding the following to your search string:

For U.S. Government sites:

For educational institutions:


Example: "Middle Ages" AND women AND