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Search Strings

To find the best search results, you will need to use your best searching strategies. Here are some helpful tips for getting good results! 

Search Strategies

If your initial search query does not produce the desired results, try:

Strategy Example
Word Choice

Keep search queries simple and descriptive; use as few terms as possible. Avoid natural language queries as they can limit your results--use colorado statehood instead of when did colorado first become a state.

Phrase Search

Use double quotations marks ("Barack Obama") to search terms as a phrase and narrow your results. Remember that a search of "Barack Hussein Obama" will retrieve only those pieces of information that refer to Barack Hussein Obama, exactly like that; citations that refer to him as simply 'Barack Obama' will not be retrieved.


In Google, use site: to limit your results to a specific website or website domain. The query cloning site:gov will only retrieve information about cloning from U.S. Government websites.


In Google, to remove unwanted search terms, place an - in front of the term you don't want. For example: eclipse -solar will find information on eclipses, but not solar eclipses.


To search for synonyms, use the OR operator. In Google, the OR operator must be in all caps. A query on hotel OR lodging OR inn directories will retrieve any or all of the types of these words.

Word Endings

A query on child retrieves results with 'children" and "childcare". Google automatically truncates search terms. To prevent automatic truncation, use a + sign in front of each term:  +child. Library databases do not automatically truncate--you'll need to use help to figure out the symbol used to truncate, OR think of all word endings you'd like to include, and search them, on the same line, connected with OR.


Boolean Operators

Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) are used to connect keywords and concepts when searching.

    Operator      Example Result

business AND ethics
cooking AND Spain

Retrieves records that contain     
ALL of the search terms.

hotels OR motels
www OR world wide web
theater OR theatre

Retrieves records that contain
ANY of the search terms, but
does not necessarily include
all of them.

java NOT coffee
Clinton NOT (William OR Bill)

Excludes records containing
the second search term.
Ms. Cidney Mayes | Memorial Middle School | 120 Wescott Road | South Portland, Maine | 04106 | Tel: 207-773-5629