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McNair Scholars: 5. Search Smarter

Universal Search Tips

This Common Search Tips tutorial video (2:16 minutes) provides an overview of universally used keyword search tips. Generally, you will start your research with keyword searches, so it is a good idea to memorize these tips.

Guidance regarding advanced/specialized search tips, including date and format limits, can be found on page 6, Search More Strategically, and on help screens in the database you are searching.



If you are mathematically orientated or keen on Venn diagrams, these will help you visualize how the universal search tips work. The darker areas highlight what you will find when you use different Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to connect your terms. For example, in the AND Venn diagram all the search results will contain both the words "blue" and "green."

combine two terms with AND to get the records with both of them in them        combine terms with OR to find records with either or both terms in them        combine terms with NOT to find records with the first term in them, but not the second one


For more tips, see the Search Strategies: Boolean Operators and Search Symbols guide.

Boolean Operators: Pirates vs. Ninjas

Courtesy of Carnegie Vincent Library, Lincoln Memorial University