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Library Search Help Guide: Search Tips


Multiple keywords are searched for as individual words. For example: social media is searched as social AND media.

To search for an exact phrase, use quotation marks. For example: "social media" will retrieve titles where those words appear together in that order as a phrase. This will help you to narrow your search results.

You can link phrases together with Boolean Operators, just like you can with individual keywords.


What keywords do you want to search? To ensure you don't overlook sources that use different terminology, think about synonyms, related terms  and key concepts that link to your keywords. You might like to use a dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia to identify the best words to search.

Think about:

  • How much information do you need?
  • What kind of information do you need?
  • Read your assigned texts for background information.
  • Look at your assignment instructions for more information.


Use a wildcard symbol (?) if you want to find different spellings.

e.g. organi?e will find organise and organize.

Note: (?) will not work at the end of a word or in a phrase search. (?) also doesn't work in a hyphenated word i.e. self-organi?ation


Use a truncation symbol (*) to find variations of a word.

e.g. manag* will find manage, managed, managing, managers, management, managerialism, etc.


When searching multiple terms, use Boolean Operators to link your keywords together. Different Boolean Operators will change how your search works. For example:


AND narrows your search

OR broadens your search.

NOT narrows your search, but use it with caution as it may eliminate useful results from your search.