Search smarter, not harder

Do you ever feel that even with millions of Google search results you still cannot find the information you need? Or have you ever spent a long time searching the library's catalogue only to conclude no books on your topic exist? Try these tips below to help you search smarter, not harder, or take our tutorial:

Boolean Operators and Other Search Tips tutorial


Use "AND" and "OR"

By bridging your truncated keywords and synonyms with the capitalized search words "AND" and "OR" (known as Boolean operators), you can search for multiple concepts effectively.

Use parentheses

Using parentheses (), called "nesting," groups terms together so you can combine even more concepts. For example: (teenagers OR adolescents) AND (beliefs OR attitudes) AND alcohol.

Use limiters

Limit your search to look only for the title or author, within a certain date range, in a certain format, and more. This eliminates a lot of irrelevant results immediately.


Shorten, or truncate, a keyword by using symbols such as "*" or "?". For example, canad* will retrieve results for the words Canada, Canadian and Canadians. Truncating means you don't have to search for these words separately by typing each one individually.

Use quotation marks

If one of your search terms contains more than one word (e.g., climate change) use quotation marks (" ") around the whole phrase (e.g., "climate change") to ensure the words are searched for together and not separately.

Use synonyms

Teenagers and adolescents mean essentially the same thing. Make sure to use both terms in your search to get all relevant results.

Search across disciplines

You can find lots of related resources on your topic when you expand your search beyond sources that focus only within your discipline.

Ask for help

Look for about 10 minutes and then if you cannot find anything, visit, call, email or text us.

Use a subject guide

Find key encyclopedias, dictionaries, e-journals, article databases and webpages in your discipline. Consult these guides to save time and frustration.