ENG 111: College Reading and Writing (Armstrong)

Choose Search Terms

Key Concepts

Identify the key concepts of your topic and enter just those terms (not the full sentences) into the search box. For example, if you are investigating factors that influence an individual's diet, your key concepts will be: factors, influence, diet


Consider Synonyms, Broader Terms, Narrower Terms, and Related Terms: 

For a search on the factors that influence one's diet consider the following: 

factors: family, culture, economic status, income, access, convenience

influence: behavior, habits, attitudes

diet: nutrition, cooking, processed food, plant based, animal based, natural food, vegatarian, vegan


Subject Headings: 

Articles are assigned subject headings. Use these as keywords to broaden or narrow your results. In many of the library's databases, you will find the list of assigned subject headings (sometimes called descriptors) in the record for the article. See the below image as an example of where you can find the subject headings: 

Some databases offer a thesaurus that lists related subject headings. Usually, you can find a link to this list near the top of the page.


Phrase Searching:

To find an exact phrase, use double quotes, such as "economic status" or "food habits".

Combine Search Terms

Boolean Operators 

Boolean Operators are words (AND, OR, NOT) that combine or exclude keywords in a search. 


AND narrows your search

  • "economic status" AND "food habits" finds resources with both terms

OR broadens your search

  • "economic status" OR "meal frequency" finds resources with either term or both terms

 NOT excludes terms

  • "economic status" NOT "social status" excludes all sources with the term "social status"

Expand Search Terms

Please note that the symbols vary by database, so it is in your best interest to look at the Help or Search Tips or Advanced Search section of each database for the correct symbols. 



Add a symbol (these vary by database, examples include *, ?, $ ) to find variant endings of a word, which will broaden your search. Enter the root of a word and place the truncation symbol at the end:

  • advertis* will retrieve advertise, advertising, advertisement



Add a symbol (these vary by database, but examples include *, ?, $ ) within a word to find variant spellings of a term.

  •  wom*n will find women or woman