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Recordings and Tutorials

Broadening a Search: Video Tutorial

Created by Michael Muchow, Humanities Subject Librarian

Published on November 2, 2013

Conducting an effective search is important to finding relevant articles and resources on your topic of interest. This video tutorial will give you tips on how to broaden your search, helping you to find new keywords for your topic and more relevant results.

Broadening a Search

This written tutorial explains how to use two database functions to broaden your search.


1. Use the Boolean 'Or' function to broaden a search.

We are going to show this on EBSCO, but most databases have similar features. Here, use the search box where you had your term. You can use singular/plural (woman or women), alternate spellings (theater or theatre), or similar terms (universities or colleges) to broaden your search.

To do this, put both terms in the first box, separated by the word ‘or’. In some databases you may need to put parentheses around the search terms. You can be prepared to use any database if you remember to use the parentheses when using the ‘or’ Boolean function.

2. The second way to broaden a search is truncation. This is when you use the stem of a word (like theat for theater) and use the truncation symbol to get every form of the word that follows the truncation symbol.

Truncation symbols differ from database to database, so you will need to look at the database’s help function to determine the correct symbol to use for the truncation function.