Use this page to start building general search techniques, which can be applied for many different resources at Yale Library.
When you use a search engine like Google, you are most likely doing a keyword search. Searching by keyword will return results with your keyword(s) located anywhere in the record or document.
Keywords can be useful to surface material in your search, but keep reading for more precise ways!
A subject defines a book or an article as a whole. Subject headings link information -- just like how hashtags link conversations in social media (#yalelibrary). Subjects for library resources are created within controlled vocabularies, which makes searching by subject very precise. It also means that doing a subject search isn't as easy as natural-language searches in something like Google.
Here are 3 ways to identify subject headings:
Boolean operators refers to the words AND, OR, NOT. When combined with keywords and/or subjects, boolean operators will help focus your search in the following ways:
Because search logic varies from one database to the next, it can be important to specify when you need to search a phrase. Some databases will assume words together act as a phrase, while other databases will treat each search as a boolean "AND" by default. If you know you need "American history", and not just "American" and not just "history" -- search as a phrase.
Some databases will also allow you to specify proximity between search terms. This method can be useful if you want to retrieve a phrase, but that phrase might have variations. Depending on the database, the proximity option could range from a dropdown menu, to an operator such as:
Hillary Clinton is a good example: "Hillary Clinton" as a phrase search might be successful, but specifying Hillary N2 Clinton will retrieve variations within two words, i.e.: "Hillary Rodham Clinton".
A truncation search expands your search result options by retrieving iterations of a root word. To use truncation, enter the root of a term and replace the ending with an asterisk (*).
A wildcard search can be helpful to retrieve spelling variations of search terms. Commonly a hash (#) will mark the letter in question. For example: wom#n will retrieve "woman" or "women", and colo#r will retrieve "color" or "colour".
With any of these search methods, the symbols or syntax required can vary from one database to the next. If you're using a few databases a lot - you'll get to know their requirements pretty quickly! If you're using a new database, take a look around for any special requirements.
For instance: in Orbis, the truncation symbol is actually a question mark (?).
From the Noun Project: