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Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

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Quotation Marks for Phrase Searching

Using quotation marks for phrase searching will help to ensure that the results you get back in a search engine are accurate.

When you search for a phrase like corporate social responsibility the search engine will bring back any results that have those words in them. However, if you put quotation marks around the phrase, "corporate social responsibility", the search engine will only bring back results that have all those words in them exactly in the order you have them printed. This can also be useful when you're searching for the title of a book or other resource.


As with any search strategy, you may want to consider what quotation marks are most useful for and anything you should be cautious about when using this searching technique:

Most Useful For:

  • Finding highly relevant information on a topic--allows users to narrow down results based on exact phrasing of keywords or topic.
  • Searching for the title of a book or other resource, a person or place name, etc.


  • May miss relevant resources if the phrase searched for is not used in the article exactly as printed.
  • Some databases automatically apply phrase searching--view online search tips for individual databases before using phrase searching.

More Information

The library has several books and ebooks in our collection which can help answer your questions about phrase searching. Check out the books and web resources listed in the FAQ How can I use quotation marks for phrase searching? for additional information.