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Library Resources for High School and Community College

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Choosing Keywords

As you develop and refine your topic, start to identify keywords. The video below discusses why this is necessary to use keywords when searching for scholarly information.

Choosing keywords (Norwich University Libraries) [time=2:59]

Takeaway: People may describe a concept using different words than you. Take time to identify several synonyms for different key concepts in your topics. 

Advanced Search Tips

AND, OR, and NOT

These three words can be very handy when you are using databases. 

  • Puppy AND kitten = articles that have both of these words 
  • Puppy OR kitten = articles that can have either of these words (because they're both adorable)
  • Puppy NOT kitten = articles that only contain the word puppy (because we're not interested in kittens)

Pro tip: CAPITALIZE these words in databases to ensure that they work properly. Some databases require you to put them in all caps. Best to be safe and get in the habit of capitalizing all the time.

Using Truncation and Wildcards

Sometimes you will be looking for a bunch of related words that all start with the same beginning. For example: computer, compute, computing, computational...

In these instances, you can use the asterisk symbol (*) to truncate these words, like this:


This will return all words that start with these six letters. 

You may also want to use the pound/hash (#) symbol for spelling variations within a word. For example: 


This will return the words "color" as well as "colour" (the British spelling).