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Tarleton State University Libraries Unit 4
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image of a computer   Online Search Tools, like library catalogs and databases, require the use of different techniques to refine searches than print search tools require.

Knowing these techniques will make your online research time more effective and productive.

While some online search tools may not have features that let you use all of the techniques, most let users manipulate searches in the ways discussed below and on the following pages.

Ways to increase efficiency when using online search tools:
•  Consult a thesaurus or subject term list (print or online) to determine possible search terms.
•  Note the subject terms (also called descriptors) listed in item records and consider them as possible search terms.
•  Use more than one online search tool because each tool offers different sources and dates of coverage.
•  Broaden and narrow search terms to enhance search precision using phrase searches, boolean operators, and nested terms. These techniques are explained later in this unit.
•  Plan for variations in terms by using truncation and wildcard searches to enhance thoroughness. These techniques are explained later in this unit.
•  Determine search limits to use.
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Updated 7/2004