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Keyword Phrase Searching

Phrase searching is a powerful way to retrieve specific information containing commonly used phrases. Phrase searching means searching for two or more words as an exact phrase.

Use Phrase Searching when the precise order of your keywords matters such as when you're looking for information about a concept, a person, or a place, as in the examples below.


Phrase Search Statements:   

Sample Article Title Results:

  • "Sustainable Architecture"
Private Enterprise Embraces 
Sustainable Architecture
  • "Attention Deficit Disorder"
Cognitive Studies on Attention 
Deficit Disorder
  • "Cesar Chavez"
Cosechando esperanza: la historia 
de César Chávez

While these examples show the words in the titles of articles, databases can also search for phrases in other fields, such as author, subject heading, and text.


Benefits of Phrase Searching

Phrase searching helps you be very precise with your search. Imagine you searched for the keywords United States and didn't indicate that the two words are a phrase. Your search could retrieve an unrelated article which contains the two words but not next to each other, such as the following:

The chief executive officer of the United Fruit Company reported better than average growth in the last quarter. He states, "We're doing better than ever."


Two Ways to Phrase Search: 

Databases differ in how you enter a phrase search. Here are two examples of different ways to conduct a phrase search:

Enclose your phrase in quotations marks

For example

Use a pull down menu

For example


Always check the help button icon or tips page of the system you are using!

Chapter 5 — Page 11