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Conducting an Effective Search Tips for searching the Internet, electronic databases, and OPACs. Basic tips Brainstorm a list of keywords, questions, phrases, or concepts for your topic. Keywords are significant words or terms in the title, abstract/summary, or text of an item that indicate its subject. Enter words in the search box that you think will appear on the Web page you want. Avoid common words (such as a, an, or the) unless they are part of a phrase. Use correct spelling. Wildcards If you don't know the complete word, or aren't sure how to spell it, add an asterisk (*) to the end of what you do know. An asterisk can replace any number of letters at the end of a word. However, the * can't be used as a word's first or second letter or have any letters after it. For example, If you enter teach*, you will get a list of results with "teach", "teacher", "teaches", and "teaching". You can use a question mark (?) to replace a single letter. You can use more than one question mark in a word, but it can't be the first letter. Example: If you're not sure whether it's "allegators", allagators", or "alligators", search using all?gators. You can also use a question mark to find multiple forms of a word. Example: A search on wom?n finds both "woman" and "women". More search tips Put quotation marks around phrases or proper names. Example: “George Washington” Be specific. If you are searching for information about Florida, type "Florida". If you want to find information about vacationing in Florida, type "Florida vacation" Use correct spacing. If you search for "baseball cards," you will most likely receive a list of various collectibles. If you search for "baseballcards" you will likely find only a website with the address www.baseballcards.com Conduct a Boolean Search Computers cannot understand human language, but they can match words. By using a combination of keywords and Boolean operators you will improve the results of your search. A Boolean search is made up of keywords connected by the logical operators AND, OR and NOT. Boolean Operators AND This is used to narrow your search by ensuring that all keywords used will appear in the search results. Example: cats AND dogs gives you only the titles that mention both cats and dogs. NOT This is used to eliminate an unwanted concept or word in your search statement. Example: cats NOT dogs gives you only the titles about cats that do not mention dogs. OR This is used to broaden your search by retrieving any, some, or all of the keywords used in the search statement. Example: cats OR dogs gives you all the titles that mention cats or dogs or both. Click here for a visual representation of how Boolean operators work: http://kathyschrock.net/rbs3k/boolean/ Advanced Searches Most search engines have a special advanced search page that allows you to increase the accuracy of your search. You can filter using many options. Look for the “Advanced Search" link. Need more help? Read the "hints" and "help" pages.
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