Skip to Main Content

ENGL 1302 - Johnson - Fall 2023: Search Techniques


Keywords are words or phrases that best describe the information you want. They are the most essential parts of the question! Keywords are used for search engines on both the subscription electronic resources at ACC and the web.

Pick the most basic words that define your topic. In general, don't type normal sentences in search engines; just use the keywords.



What are the causes of diabetes in children?

diabetes AND children AND causes

Other Techniques

Wait, there's more. Try the following techniques to make your searches even more dynamic!

Phrase Searches

Often keywords are more than one word. Most search engines let you put quotation marks around these so only results with the exact phrase are listed.

"rap music"

"cell phone"


Shortening a keyword to its basic root and adding a special character (usually an asterisk "*" or "?") at the end will tell the computer to search for variations on the word.

Searching for politic* will find:


Note: Check the search engine help screens to see if this can be done.  It's most common on subscription databases.


Combines concepts and techniques. The search engine will search for what's grouped or nested inside the parentheses first.

("rap music" OR "hip hop") AND censorship

Combining Keywords

Better Results with Boolean Image, Please see PDF below for accessibility

Boolean Operators - B. D. Owens Library

ACC Web Site || Library Web Site || GET HELP! || Search the Library
Contact Us • © Library Services, Austin Community College