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Tips for Using Library Search

Provides some tips and strategies for effectively using the University of Michigan Library search engine.

Basic Keyword Searching

Type the word(s) or phrases in the search box. You can use quotation marks to note phrases, and you can use AND and OR (in all-caps) to ensure that both terms must be in the results, or that one or the other term may be in the results.

Keyword searching

Example Explained
immigration Will search for items with the word immigration.
national parks Will search for items with both the words national and parks.
"climate change" Will search for items with the exact phrase climate change.

AND or OR searching

Example Explained
cardiac OR heart Will search for items with the words cardiac or heart.
obesity AND health Will search for items with both words, obesity and health, in any order.
("hip hop" OR rap) and "critical pedagogy" Will search for items with one or both of the words hip hop or rap, and the phrase critical pedagogy.
football +Wolverines -Buckeyes Will display items that may have the word football, must have the word Wolverines, and must not have the word Buckeyes.


Pro Tip: Put an asterisk in the search box to retrieve all items. You can then filter results with other parameters (e.g. format, location, language, etc.)

Advanced Searching

Most catalog and article databases have "advanced" searching features that allow you to create complex searches by combining elements, fields, or concepts. Library Search also provides an advanced search mode, the search fields of which vary depending upon which information category you select. You might decide to use the advanced search when you absolutely know certain elements, such as author name, precise article title, ISBN or ISSN, publisher name, etc., and you want to combine those certain elements at one time.

Advanced search form showing a combined keyword search for "social justice" and author search for "mooney."

Searching in Non-Roman Scripts

Generally, for research in non-Roman scripts (e.g. Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, etc.) romanized searches retrieve the most reliable Library Search results. Note: Most U-M Library catalog records for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean materials created since the late 1980s contain names and titles in the original non-Roman scripts, and thus can be searched by terms in both romanized forms and East Asian characters. 

The Library of Congress ALA-LC Romanization Tables may help you determine appropriate forms for searching. It may be helpful to search for variations of transliterations, too. Use non-Roman characters in keyword, author, and titles searches for the most effective results.

You can always add other elements to your search for non-English language materials, such as:

  • apply specific language filters
  • apply geographic regions or locations filters in place of publication fields

For expert help in searching non-Roman scripts, please contact a subject specialist (International Studies).

DOI or PMID Searching

While there is no field in the Advanced Search form of the Library Articles Search for DOI (digital object identifier) or for PMID (PubMed identifier), you can search for these unique article identifiers in the Basic Search. In the search box, type the prefix doi: or pmid: and then the string of numbers or letters. For example:

Search for a DOI, specifically doi:10.1164/rccm.1996P11

Search for a PMID, specifically pmid:30265024