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ENGL 2080: Business and Administrative Writing: Search Tips & Tricks

Three Search Tips

Exact Phrase Searching

  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase: "United States" or "hydraulic fracturing".

Truncations (aka wildcards)

  • Use an * to search for multiple word endings: A search for sustain* will also find results with the words sustainable and sustainability.

Boolean Operators (ANDs, ORs, NOTs)

  • Use Boolean Operators to build more specific searches in Advanced Search mode.

Developing Keywords for Different Views

To research all sides of an argument, you will need to develop different sets of keywords that best describe a particular view of your topic. Let's use the causes of school violence as an example.

Some scholars argue that school violence may be caused by exposure to violence in media like television, movies, or video games. Keywords to research this view may include a combination of the following words or phrases:

  • school violence
  • media violence
  • video games
  • movies OR television

Other scholars find that violent incidences at school can be caused by mental health issues brought on by social isolation or bullying. Keywords to research this view may include a combination of the following words or phrases:

  • school violence
  • bullying
  • isolation
  • mental health OR mental wellness

Boolean Operators (Video Tutorial)

Video created by Lexy Spry & Emily Wixson, Chemistry Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008.

Tips for Searching with Boolean Operators

Time Saving Tip

Here are bonus tips that will help you use Boolean Operators to make a search for sources more effective:

  • Enter a short search term in each line
  • If you use AND to connect too many search terms you won't get any results - if that happens, remove the least important search term.
  • Type OR between synonyms in one line of a search box