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  • Tips for Better Searching

    • Keep your initial search simple—single words or short phrases.  In databases, save limits (such as date ranges, scholarly, peer-reviewed, etc.) until you see the results list.

    Know which fields you are searching.  The search boxes themselves or database HELP will tell you whether the term you type can appear anywhere (All Text) or only in Selected Fields to produce a result.

    • Look for common database tools (suggested subject headings, abstracts, citation help, emailing and save options) on the edges of the page, often in a color bar above the search boxes or in a separate frame on the right or left of your results list.

    Truncation allows you to search variables of a word by typing part of the word plus an asterisk *

    ADOPT finds just adopt, but ADOPT* finds adopted, adopting, adoptions, etc.

    WOMAN finds just woman, but WOM*N finds woman and women.


    Enclose your words in quotation marks to create a phrase search.

    CHILDREN OF MEN finds titles with any combination of those common words.

    "CHILDREN OF MEN" finds the book and movie with that exact title.


    Look for  proximity search options.

    Many CFCC databases offer proximity searching by typing multiple search terms within a single search box (with no quotation marks).

    Google also uses a variation of proximity searching, giving more relevance to words typed in a single search box if they appear near each other in the results.

    Use the right  Boolean operator.

    • Use the right Boolean operator--usually AND--to link two search terms.  Using OR often results in a large number of unrelated (and less useful) results.  Using AND assures that both of your search terms will appear in the same document.

    Want more information about Boolean searching?

    Boolean Tutorial - Beginner

    Boolean Tutorial - Advanced

    Keyword ? or Subject Heading ?

    The Keyword you choose to search may or may not be a Library of Congress Subject Heading.

    For example:

    • Search GLOBALISM as a Subject Heading -- zero resources found.
    • Search GLOBALISM as a Keyword -- 12 resources found.
    • Check the Subject Headings on one of those 12 resources and choose the official Library of Congress Subject Heading:

    United States -- Foreign economic relations -- 44 relevant resources found.

    Want more help with the Library of Congress Classification System?

    CFCC Library of Congress PDF

    Library of Congress Classification Details

    Truncation, Wildcard, and Phrase Searching Video

    This short video (~1min) will teach you some search strategies to help you get the best results.