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Biographical Information: Search Strategies


Read on if you have a paper or project that requires researching a famous person and finding biographical information.   Your next step is to read the section on Search Strategies below.

Search Strategies

The words AND and OR can be used to link keywords and phrases in order to perform more efficient searches.  

Use AND to narrow your search.  For example, Martin Luther King and biography will find results containing the keyword biography and the phrase Martin Luther King, even if they do not appear next to each other.

Several keywords may be used to narrow searches with the word AND. To find information about Bill Clinton's educational background, you might search using: Bill Clinton AND education AND biography

 Truncation offers another strategy to make your searching more efficient.  You may insert a truncation symbol after the root or beginning of a word.  The results will include variations of the word.  The most common truncation symbol is the asterisk (*).  For example, to truncate the search above use: Bill Clinton AND educat* AND biog* which will find records that have any of the following words: educate, educates, educated, educating, etc., and biography, biographies, biographical, etc.

 Note:  Occasionally databases may use a different symbol.  Always check the database’s help section if the truncation symbol is not providing the results you expect.

Synonyms can also be used as alternative keywords and phrases for more efficient searches. For example, use: life* instead of biog*; William Jefferson Clinton or President Clinton instead of Bill Clinton.


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