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ENG 102 Information Literacy

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") 



Examples of search strategies for literary topics


Phrase searching

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



Boolean Operators

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"