Combining Search Terms

This video explores the effectiveness of combining search terms to narrow or broaden your search results.

If you want to improve the efficiency of your search, consider combining search terms.  


You will probably want to start with a narrow search that uses two terms.  Using AND between the terms will limit the results to only those items which match both terms.  For example, if you are interested in graffiti as a form of art, you would search for graffiti AND art.  This will only include results that discuss graffiti in an artistic context rather than as an illegal activity.  Alternatively, you could search graffiti NOT vandalism to exclude discussions of vandalism and graffiti.  


If your narrowed search isn’t giving you the results you need, consider using OR to broaden your search.  For example, you could search for graffiti OR “street art” to widen your range.  You can also include multiple operands in a search, like graffiti OR “street art” NOT vandalism.  Part of the research process is experimenting with the order of the operands and seeing if you get different results.  Another strategy to use in your searches is to plan your searches ahead of time.  Similar to pre-writing, this will perhaps give you a better sense of what exactly it is you are looking for.  And remember, always capitalize your operands because some databases require it.  


If you have any further questions, click the Ask A Librarian button on the homepage for help.


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