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Exact Phrase Searching with " "- Many library databases (e.g., Academic Search Complete) and online search engines (e.g., Yahoo!, Google) support exact phrase searching by surrounding the phrase in quotation (" ") marks. By placing the phrase in quotation marks, it instructs the database or search engine to look for the terms together and in the order typed.
Many search technologies do not perform intact phrase searches unless the user instructs them to do so. For example, a Google search on no child left behind produces far more hits, many of them irrelevant, than the same search on the phrase "no child left behind". By excluding the quotation marks, the user is allowing the search engine to return matches not only on the phrase "no child left behind", but he/she is also opening up the search to return matches on any pages that contain the terms no and child and left and behind, in other words, with all terms present in any order whatsoever.
If the database or search engine does not support the use of quotation marks " ", the user can often go to the "Advanced Search" screen where the option to do an exact phrase search is given.
Wildcard and Truncation Keys
? - replaces a single character (e.g., c?ts for cats, cots, cuts and so on).
* - replaces multiple characters (e.g., comput* for computer, computers, computed, computation and so on).
Please refer to the individual database's "Help" or "Search tips" section for the precise characters used for wildcard keys and truncation, since these characters can differ database to database.