GLBT Student Support Services


General Search Strategies

Subject Headings | Database Search Tips | Truncation and Wildcard Characters | Boolean Search Tips

Subject Headings

When organizing library catalogs, many libraries use Library of Congress Subject Headings. Many databases also use these or similar subject headings. Searching by these subject headings can simplify and enhance your search. Suggested subject headings are included with each database. Be sure and check your database’s Thesaurus or Subject Terms for other suggestions. Click here for a complete list of GLBT-related subject headings.

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Database Search Tips

  • Use “quotation marks” to search for exact phrases
  • 2 word queries (such as gay lawyers ) are searched as an exact phrase by default.
  • 3 word queries (such as Stonewall Inn Riots ) are searched as words that need to appear in proximity to each other by default.

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Truncation and Wildcard Characters

The asterisk symbol * is used as a right-handed truncation character only; it will find all forms of a word.
For example, searching for bisexual* will find “bisexual”, “bisexuals”, “bisexuality”, etc.
The symbol ? is used to replace any single character, either inside the word or the right end of the word.
? cannot be used to begin a word.
For example, searching for wom?n will find “wom a n” and “wom e n.”

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Boolean Search Tips

Find all the words.
Example: transgender AND athletics
Find documents which have the first word, but not the second word.
Example: transgender AND NOT coaches
Find any of the words
Example: transgender OR transsexual

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For help, please email

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