Search Tips

Search Tips

Use these handy tips to improve the effectiveness of your searching - these techniques can be used in the library catalogue, in a database, or even in a search engine.


Use the asterisk * in order to save time and get as many results as possible for a key term - for example, typing in femini* will search for feminist, feminism, and feminine. Sometimes the truncation symbol can be a ?.

AND/OR/NOT ('Boolean searching')

Using AND OR or NOT can help either to broaden or refine your search, therefore ensuring you get more precise results.

  • Use OR for a broader search and in order to increase the number of results - e.g. "contemporary dance" OR "modern dance" will search for both of these combinations.
  • Use AND when you have two or more keywords and want to link them together. This will give fewer results than searching the keywords separately - e.g. performance AND ritual
  • Use NOT to eliminate phrases you don't require information about - for example, you would search for "physical theatre" NOT DV8 if you were looking for material about physical theatre but didn't want information on DV8 Physical Theatre Company.

Searching for an exact phrase - Quotation marks

If you are searching for a phrase enclose it in quotation marks, e.g. "avant garde theatre". Otherwise databases frequently search for the words separately.

Advanced Search

Don't be afraid of using the 'Advanced Search' option - often this option simply allows you to search by more than one keyword and to refine your search in various ways (e.g. by date).

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