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Database Search Tips: Quick Search Tips

A guide to database search tips designed and created by Clark Librarians

Three Super Savvy Tips for Finding Stuff in Databases

Keywords are the words you use to search. They're what you enter into the search box of a search tool, such as Google or a Library database like ProQuest.

Databases such as the ones you will be using for your classes provide better results if you use three strategies for entering your keywords, or search terms.

Tip #1: Use AND and OR


one third of a pie chart that says "#1: thing 1 and thing 2"

Separate words and phrases with the word and, like this:

texts and teens and driving

The and is called a Boolean operator.

Use and when you want to narrow a search


Another Boolean operator is or, which you can use to link synonyms:

texts and (teens or adolescents) and driving

Notice that when you use or, you also use parenthesis around the words you're connecting (that's important!)

Use or when you want to expand a search.

Tip #2: Use the asterisk

one third of a pie chart showing "#2: be a star*"Use the asterisk (shift + 8) to truncate words. Truncating means that you put an * at the end of the root word.

text   -- looks only for the word text
text*  -- looks for text, texts, texting

More examples

environ* = environment, environmentally
adolescen* = adolescent, adolescence
teen* = teen, teens, teenagers



Tip #3: Use Quotation Marks

one third of a pie chart showing "#3: stick together"






Use quotation marks around common phrases. Quotation marks will keep your words "stuck" together.

"young adult"

"cell phone"

"global warming"

"climate change"


The Whole Search Pie

a whole pie chart showing all three search tips together.

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