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TC Library Online

A guide to library resources

Wikipedia is a good place to start a research paper. It can be used as a tool to gather ideas and information to develop your research topic. Wikipedia is considered a tertiary source (a source that provides overviews by compiling, indexing, or organizing primary and secondary sources).

But the bottom line is, that Wikipedia isn't a reliable source because it's open-source, many of its entries are written by enthusiasts rather than experts. And--gasp--some people actually LIE. So, get an introduction, explore some of the references they offer, and then use library databases to find books that VERIFY (or not!) what you find in Wikipedia. So don't cite Wikipedia as a source.



Search Operators:

Narrow down your search results by adding symbols and words to your search called search operators. Don't worry about memorizing every operator - you can also use the Advanced Search page to create these searches.

When you search using an operator, don't add any spaces between the operator and your query. A search for will work, but site: will not.

Search for an exact word or phrase


Use quotes to search for an exact word or set of words on a web page. This is helpful when searching for song lyrics or a line from a book. But only use this if you're looking for an exact word of phrase, otherwise you'll exclude many helpful results.


"imagine all the people"

Exclude a word


Add a dash (-) before a word or site to exclude all results that include that word. This is especially useful for words with multiple meanings, like Jaguar the car and jaguar the animal

jaguar speed -car


Search Within a site or domain


Get results only from certain sites or domains. For example, you can find all mentions of "Olympics" on the NBC website, or any gov. websites.



Search for pages that link to a URL


Find pages that Link to a certain page. For example, you can find all the pages that link to

Search for pages that are similar to a URL


Find sites that are similar to a URL you already know. If you search for related sites to, you'll find other news publication sites you may be interested in.

Fill in the blank


Add an asterisk within a search as a placeholder for any unknown or wildcard terms. Use with quotation marks to find variations of that exact phrase or to remember words in the middle of a phrase.

"a * saved is a * earned"

Search for either word


If you want to search for pages that may have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms.

world cup location 2014 OR 2018

Search for a number range


Separate numbers by two periods without spaces (..) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements.

camera $50..$100

Find information about a site


Get information about a URL, including the cached version of the page, similar pages, and pages that link to the site.

See cached version of a site


See what a page looks like the last time Google crawled the site.


When you search, most punctuation and special characters are ignored. However, there are some punctuation and symbols that work in searches.

Punctuation and symbols that work in Google Search

Symbol What you can use it for
[+] Search for things like blood type [AB+] or for a Google+ page like [+Chrome]
[@] Find social tags like [@Google]
[&] Find strongly connected ideas and phrases like [A&E]
[%] Search for percent value like [40% of 80]
[$] Indicate prices, like [Nikon $400]
[#] Search for trending topics indicated by hashtags like [#adulting]
[-] Indicate that words around it are strongly connected like [twelve-year-old dog]
[_] Connect two words like [quick_sort]. Your search results will find this pair of words either linked together (quicksort) or connected by an underscore (quick_sort)

Even though the symbols listed above are supported, including them in your searches doesn't always improve the results. In these cases, you may see suggested results for that search without  punctuation if those results seem more useful.


Google Books can be a great way to search within scanned books, or to preview books before you decide to buy or borrow them. You can also search selected magazines and newspapers through the Google Books search. Keep in mind, though, that the selection of books included in Google Books is somewhat random, and the amount of text you can preview may be very limited. That said, you can use some of the same advanced search techniques used for web searching here to precisely target your search.

Google Book Search

Google Books and Taft College:

Perhaps you've found something that looks promising, but the amount of content you can preview is limited. Locating the book in a nearby library is easy. Click on Get this book in print, and then click on the Find in a library option that appears in the popup menu.


Once you arrive at the WorldCat page, you can see what libraries near you have the item and click on their names to search their catalogs for the item. Libraries are listed in order of their distance from your current location.


If the item isn't available at Taft College Library, you can request the item through interlibrary loan.

This page is adapted from:

Google Tips and Tricks: Google Books by the University Libraries of the University of Rode Island is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.