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American History: Survey

Web Research Guide

Refining Your Search

  • Not getting the results you expected from a search engine? One simple step you can take is to make changes to your search query. Try using different modifiers, phrases, or synonyms to make your query even more specific.
  • In addition, you might read the Help or Search Tips page of each search engine to help you refine your search. These features guide you on how to use advanced search techniques. One common type of advanced search is called a Boolean search. With Boolean searches, you can increase the accuracy of your searches by specifying the relationships among keywords and phrases. The most commonly used Boolean operators include AND, OR, and NOT.
  • Boolean Searches at a Glance
  • AND searches

    sports AND baseball
  • The Boolean operator AND tells a search engine to search for all documents that contain both words in your query.
  • OR searches

    sports OR baseball
  • The Boolean operator OR broadens or widens a search to include all documents that contain either keyword.
  • NOT searches

    sports NOT baseball
  • The Boolean operator NOT excludes unwanted terms from your search.