Keyword Searching

What is a keyword search?

A keyword search allows one to search for keywords and phrases across the major fields of the catalog: authors, titles, series, subjects, notes, contents notes, and publishers.

Unlike the other search options, the Keyword Search can find words and phrases within a title, series, author, or subject.

Keyword searches cannot be used to find items by call number, or International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). Keyword searches are not able to take advantage of cross-references that are available in author, title, and subject searches.


The keyword search finds all items in the catalog that include all of your search terms.

cold war - finds all items with both words appearing anywhere in the record - the words need not appear next to each other to be retrieved. The search is interpreted as the boolean search: cold AND war.


Put phrases in quotes. Additional search terms can be added to narrow your search.

"double helix" - finds all items mentioning the exact phrase "double helix."
"Catcher in the rye" - items must include the exact phrase, including the words "in" and "the."
"medical ethics" genome - Finds all items with the phrase "medical ethics" and the word genome.

Connectors (AND, OR, AND NOT)

Connectors allow one to specify the relationship between the words or phrases that are being searched. Use parentheses when using more than one connector in your search (see below).

  • AND - to specify words and phrases that must be in your results but in any order. AND is assumed in searches that are not enclosed in quotes; as a result, you can omit it
  • OR - to specify groups of words or synonyms, any one of which must be in your search results.
  • AND NOT - excludes words or phrases from your results, but do so with caution.

melville moby - finds items with both words
proliferation (atomic or nuclear) - finds all items that have the word "proliferation" and either "atomic" or "nuclear."
"atomic weapons" or "nuclear weapons" - finds all items that have either the phrase "atomic weapons" or "nuclear weapons."
IRA and not Irish - finds all items that have the word IRA but don’t have the word Irish.

Proximity connector ~

The proximity connector allows one to specify the relationship between the words that are being searched. Use ~n to specify words that are within n words of each other, in any order.

"marketing plan"~5 - finds the word marketing within 5 words before or after the word plan.
"fractal geometry"~10 - finds the word fractal within 5 words before or after the word geometry.

Truncation (Wildcards)

Truncation allows one to find words for which there are variations in spelling or alternate endings. Any word that has two or more characters can be right-hand truncated. Use a single asterisk * for open-ended truncation

radio* Finds "radio", "radios," or "radiometric."
comput* Finds any word beginning with "comput"
Wom?n and Lab?r Single internal truncation. Finds "women" or "woman" and "labor" or "labour." Functions only after at least two characters have been entered.
qu*t Multiple internal truncation. Finds "quest" or "quant" or "quaint"


Include periods when they appear within an abbreviation.

N.B. You may also have to search for the abbreviation without periods as well as the spelled out form to find all items. In the examples below, the OR connector is used find all abbreviated and spelled out forms.

u.s.a. or usa or "united states of america"
fbi or f.b.i. or "federal bureau of investigation"

Field searching

Field searching allows you to do a "free-text" search within a specific field, such as author or title. Words are searched in all fields unless fields are specified. The fields that are available for searching are a:(author), t:(title), s:(subject), and o:(other), which searches notes, contents notes, and publishers. To search a specific field, type the single letter field label followed a colon and the search word(s). Be sure to use a connector between the different elements of your search.

a:strunk and a:white ... finds items by joint authors
a:twain and t:huck ... combines author and title words
a:ackerman and o:doubleday ... combines author and publisher


Modifying your search

If your search retrieves too many items, click on the Modify Search button. This will return you to the Keyword Search screen so you can add additional words to your search or select various criteria to limit your search. For complete information on all available limits, consult the help page, "Modify Search."

Language searching

You can use the pull-down menu to limit your search to one of the twenty most frequently represented languages in the catalog.

If you need to limit your search to a language not on the menu, use the appropriate three-letter language code appended to the prefix "lang:lang" as in the examples below. A list of available three-letter language codes can be found by following this link.

lang:langswa ... finds items in Swahili
bible and lang:langalg ... finds bibles in Algonquin

Location searching

You can use the pull-down menu to limit your search to one of the following library locations:

  • Baker-Berry Library
  • Dana Biomedical Library
  • Feldberg Business & Engineering Library
  • Kresge Physical Sciences Library
  • Matthews Fuller Health Sciences Library
  • Paddock Music Library
  • Rauner Special Collections Library
  • Sherman Art Library
  • Storage Library

If you need to limit your search to a location not on the menu, such as Feldberg Reference, you will need to search for the location by keyword using the appropriate location code prefixed by the phrase, "branch:branch," as in the examples below. A list of available location codes can be found by following this link.

branch:branchbarf and france ... finds items on France in Baker/Berry Reference
(frost near robert) and
... finds items by or about Robert Frost in Baker/Berry
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