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Searching Databases Cheat Sheet: Steps 1 and 2

A quick and easy guide to help make using our databases easier

Step 1

Break Down the Complex

Write out the topic of your paper. As a written sentence, your search results will be pretty hit or miss if you put it into the search box. Therefore, we need to break it down into smaller parts. These smaller parts are called your search terms. They are the building blocks of your search.

►Separate each individual idea and simplify

►Nouns and action words

►Small phrasing

►Look for alternative wording

The Thesaurus is your friend

Wording does matter. I.E. “Males” instead of “Men”


Influence of Saints Plays on Shakespeare

Miracle Plays" is another term for “Saints Plays”


Step 2

Set Your Operators

Next, go to the Advanced Search. The button will usually be located below the regular search bar.

Once there, you'll see multiple search boxes. On the right are two drop-down menus with the word AND visible. These menus provide your Boolean Operators which act as the glue between your search terms.


Your options are:

AND: Entry must include BOTH search terms


OR: Entry must include EITHER or BOTH search terms

NOT: Entry must REMOVE search term from the results.

 You probably will not want to use this option on your initial search. This option is for removing unwanted results that keep showing up.


Vincennes University

812-888-VUVU | 800-742-9198

1002 North First Street; Vincennes, Indiana 47591

Shake Library

812-888-4165 |

1002 North First Street; Vincennes, Indiana 47591

Jasper Academic Center for Excellence

812-481-5923 |

850 College Ave; Jasper, IN 47546