The words you use are critical:

  • Use words that best describe what you’re looking for.
  • Use only the most important words instead of writing a full sentence or question.
  • Remember, different types of sources will use different words, such as cop versus peace officer or adolescent versus teen. If you want to broaden your search use a tilde (~) before a word  to get synonyms
  • Word order is very important and the most important words should be the first words in your search.

Get too many results that aren’t relevant? A few things you can try:

  • Use the advanced search feature of the search engine your using such as com/advanced_search or
  • Add more specific words to narrow your search results.
  • If you want results to have a specific phrase put quotation marks before and after those words like “black lives matter”.
  • Use a minus sign – before a word if you don’t want any of the results to have it, such as -“ferguson”
  • Type intitle: before words to find those words in the titles of your results page.
  • Type filetype: and then put in the type of document you want such as .doc, .pdf, mp3 to find results of a specific file type.
  • Or use the ‘search tools’ built into the search engines, like Images, Scholar, Shopping, News
  • Use & to find strongly connected ideas and phrases, like discrimination & transgender
  • Type site: to search within a website, like Section 8 site: