Skip to Main Content

Finding Books at HCC Libraries

Your Mileage May Vary

When conducting a search, results will vary for the search terms used. For example, should you search for the term "GPS" or "global positioning system"?  "Movies" or "motion pictures"? Experiment with different search terms to get the best results.   

Consider which databases are most likely to have information on your topic. If you need information on Homer and his epic poems, the History Reference Center or Literary Reference Center databases would be good choices.  Business Source Complete or Newspaper Source would less likely to be useful.

What type of resources do you want?  Books, eBooks, magazine articles, academic journal articles, newspapers, videos, a speech? If you want a speech on a particular topic, then TED Talks would be a good place to start your search. .

General Search Tips

Here are some search tips to remember:

Boolean searching is a method named after George Boole, an eighteenth-century British mathematician.  The idea is to define relationships between different topics and place specific limits on your searches.  This is done with by applying combinations of three words - and, or, not - to your search terms.

In general:

And - tells the search engine that you want results with both terms. Example: You are in EBSCOhost and want articles on the python invasion in Florida.  You could search for pythons AND Florida.

Or - tells the search engine that you want results with either term. Example: You want an island vacation, but can't decide between Texas or Florida. You would run a search for island resorts Texas OR Florida

Not - tells the search engine that you want one term but not the other. Example: You decide you don't want to read about pythons, but you are now curious about what other invasive species are in Florida.  You could search for invasive species in Florida NOT pythons.

Searches with wildcards and truncation

You use a wildcard to tell the search engine that you have an unknown letter or character in your search term.  You do this by using a question mark (?) or hashtag (#) in place of the unknown character.  Example: You want to find an EBSCOhost article about that guy, the one who created Firefly and Buffy.  Joss Whaledon?  No, that's not it. Joss Whadon?  Joss Whodon? No worries, you know how to use wildcard so you run a search for Joss Wh?don

You can use truncation when you are uncertain about the ending of a word. To do this in an article-type database, use an asterisk (*) at the end of the word. Example: You have a geography essay due on the capital of Iceland.  You sit in front of EBSCOhost and frown.  What was that again? Reyk something? Oh, well. Not a problem since you know how to truncate.  You run a search for reyk*  When using the library's Catalog, the truncation device is $.

Put quotation marks around words "any word" to search for an exact phrase in an exact order.

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
John Sanders
Rankin Library