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Library SuperSearch: Start your search

Selecting your keywords

What keywords do you want to search?

Not all authors use the same terms when they write; one author can refer to a concept by one word, whilst another uses another word. For example, an article may use the phrase "climate change" while another has "global warming" instead.

To ensure you don't miss sources that use different terminology, think about synonymsrelated terms and key concepts that link to your keywords. 

Different combinations of words will get you different results, so try a variety of searches.

Your search relies on the level of detail that databases provide in a record, and sometimes very minimal detail is given. Also, the library might simply not have resources that are that specific in nature.

For example, there might not be a book just on fast food advertising in 1951, but there might be a book on advertising in the 1950s that could be useful.

Boolean searching


Use AND to find only items containing all the keywords. Add more concepts to narrow your search. 

Example: cat AND dog will find results that mention both 'cat' and 'dog' in the same item


Use NOT to exclude concepts not relevant to your search.

Be careful when using NOT because it can limit your results too much by excluding results with just one instance of the excluded keyword.

Example: cat NOT dog will find items that contain 'cat' but do not contain 'dog', which could potentially exclude items that discuss both like articles on pets in general


Use OR to find only items containing any of the stated keywords. Good for finding items where authors have used different words or phrases to describe a concept. Commonly used with synonyms and acronyms.

Example: cat OR kitten OR feline will find items with either or both the term 'cat' or 'kitten' or 'feline' in it; United Nations OR UN

" "

Quotation marks will find common phrases to make your results more relevant.

Example: "cat cafe", "climate change"


The truncation symbol (*) helps find alternate endings of a word. Be careful about shortening the base word too much as you might bring up a lot of irrelevant items.

Example: cat* will find all items with keywords starting with cat, such as cats, cattle, catastrophe, etc.


Use the wildcard symbol (?) to find different spellings

Example: organi?ation will find organise and organize

( ) 

Use parentheses to combine several search statements together into one comprehensive search statement. Searches within the parentheses are performed first. Without parentheses, the search statement is processed from left to right.


a) cafe AND (cat OR dog) will find any records with 1) 'cat' AND 'cafe', 2) 'dog' AND 'cafe', and 3) 'dog' AND 'cat' AND 'cafe'

b) cafe AND cat OR dog will find records with 1) both keywords 'cafe' AND 'cat ', or 2) the keyword 'dog'