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Searching tips

- Have a List of Keywords ready

Keep a list of words and concepts that are useful for searching--and keep adding to it! List synonyms, related terms, and alternate spellings.


  • poetry, poems, verse, rhyme, lyric/lyrical
  • relevant/relevance, important/importance, value, significant/significance, purpose
  • race, ethnicity, African Americans, blacks, minorities
  • diction, wordplay, language, slang, vernacular

- Only input one main concept per search line or search box
Use the Advanced Search option in the database, and just put one concept in each search box, like you see in these two examples...

- Change the search terms

The database will look for *exactly* the term you type in. So try a different term to see different results. On the first search, try "cell phones." On a second search, try "mobile phones." On a third search, try "smart phones." See what results are the best for you!

- Too many results? Add another focusing search term, joined to the other search boxes with "AND"

Look at the difference between this search...

...and this one...

- Not enough results? Change the search terms, or try them with "OR"

Like in this example...

- Can't find anything after 30 minutes of searching? Then...

  1. Try each of the steps listed above in purple. If that doesn't work...
  2. Close the database, open a different database, and see what you can find there. If you search for 20-30 minutes and find nothing in the second database, then...
  3. Contact a librarian to ask for help!


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