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Research: A Step-by-Step Guide: Search Terms, aka Keywords

This guide will help you start learning about the high-quality information and research support available through the Kirk Library

Search Terms

Advanced Keyword Searching

What are Phrase, Boolean, and Wildcard Searches?

Phrase, boolean, and wildcard searching is used in search engines, databases, and on the web to define relationships between words and groups of words.  They can help you refine your search to find the best possible results. 


Use AND to retrieve both search terms


Use OR to retrieve either search term(s)


Use NOT to exclude search term(s)

" "

Use " " to keep the order of words or phrases intact

( )

Use ( ) to organize the order of relationships in your search


Use * to the end of a term to search all ending of the root word, e.g. govern* retrieves government, government, govern, governs, governor 


Use ? to find alternate spellings, e.g. wom?n retrieves woman or women 

Tips for searching within search engines & databases:

  • Text is not case sensitive

  • Most search engines do not search punctuation or certain words, e.g. the, a, of, by

  • Always check the help section of the database or search engine that you are using, as advanced search options may differ. 

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The content of these guides, unless otherwise noted, by Kirk Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.