In general, use the fewest possible number of search terms.
Key word formulation: before conducting a search, formulate your search terms. To do this, break your topic down in to key concepts. Jot them down. Now think of synonyms or other words that might be used instead. Jot them down, too. A synonym search would look like this: (gay OR same-sex) AND marriage.
Phrase searching: the catalog uses 'single quotes' to search phrases, e.g. 'fast food nation' will find everywhere in the catalog where the phrase 'fast food nation' occurs.
Truncation: the catalog uses $ for truncation, e.g. sociolog$ will find all records with the word sociology or sociologist or sociological or any word with the stem sociolog...
Substitution: the catalog uses ? for substitution, e.g. wom?n will find all records with the word women or woman.
Boolean: adding OR between words tells the catalog to find all records with one word or the other word; it expands the number of results, e.g. I'll take this or that or that. Adding AND between words tells the catalog to find all records with one word and the other word; it reduces the number of results, e.g. I only want records that have this and that.
Nesting: putting words between (parentheses) tells the catalog to search within the parentheses first, then outside of them, e.g. (gay OR same-sex) AND marriage.
Expanded Search: using the expanded search option allows you to take control of your search, limiting by library (e.g. City Park or West Bank), material type (e.g. book or DVD), location (e.g. Juvenile Collection or Popular Reading Collection), and/or sorting by date or relevance.
Once you select an item from your search results, click on the Catalog Record tab for a detailed display.
Take advantage of the Contents and Summary sections. These can help you evaluate the usefulness of an item for your needs.