Library Research Skills Tutorial About the tutorial
Using Resources

Search strings

The research subject section of this tutorial discussed how to define subject keywords to use in searching. The simplest way to perform a search is to enter some keywords and see what happens, usually this will return too many, too few, or irrelevant, results. In order to search effectively you need to translate those keywords into the language of electronic tools such as search engines and databases.

The string of text you enter into the search box is known as a search string.

This section provides help in the various aspects of constructing a search string. To fully understand the examples used it is recommended that you look at the following pages in order, however this is not essential.

  • Keywords and operators will help you to use special characters and words to give more precise instructions when searching.
  • Boolean operators can be used to search more effectively and obtain more relevant results.
  • Proximity, truncation and wildcards can all be used to further extend the power and precision of Boolean searching.
  • Putting it all together, when utilising these techniques to construct a search string it is necessary to use brackets to effectively combine all the terms, characters and operators and make the structure of your search string clear to the search engine.
  • Getting help contains some suggestions about obtaining further help with searching.

After reading through the above pages look at this example which combines all the above aspects of constructing a search string and demonstrates how to search an electronic concordance.

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