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English Composition


Search Terms

After deciding on a topic, you need to choose your search terms.

  1. Write your question or thesis statement.
  2. Choose the keywords (search terms) you will use to find articles and websites.
  3. Pick out important words or phrases.
  4. Use "and" to connect your keywords.
  5. Try similar words if needed.
  6. Do not type a sentence or question into the search box.


Smoking should be banned on college campuses.

Type these words into the search box:

smoking and ban and college

Other words to try:

  • Smoking  tobacco, cigarette
  • Ban  stop, anti smoking
  • College  university, campus, public places

Learn how to develop effective keywords to use in your research from the University of Houston Libraries.

Created by Seneca Libraries.

Talking to Databases

Created by Kent State Library.

Search Process

Keep an open mind when you start searching.  You may need to adjust your topic based on what your searches find.  Research is rarely a one shot find it all process.  You will probably repeat steps along the way.  

How to Use the Thesaurus in a Database

Created by Steely Library NKU.