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How to Use the Library One Search

What is One Search

It is the Library Search tool. It looks like a Google search, but instead of searching websites, it searches academic resources to which the Library subscribes.

One Search includes resources such as books, articles from scholarly journals, newspapers, popular magazines, statistics, literature reviews, biographies, and encyclopedic articles. For the majority of your research assignments, this is the type of information that you need.

One Search will search most of the Library digital resource collections. To find out which resources are included, you can view our list of resources that are not covered by One Search. You can also access a complete list of our digital resource collections.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

No problem. Below are some tips and tricks to help you find the best information in One Search. Most of these tricks can be used in a Google search too!

  1. Start with a simple search.
    Type in the topic, person, or place that you need information on. For example:
    • Political engagement
    • Canada politics
    • Youth voting

  2. Add more search terms.
    If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, add more descriptive terms. For example, start with:
    • politics
    • More precise: politics participation
    • Even more precise: politics participation Canada

  3. Use words from your discipline.
    Try searching for information using specific terms that are unique to your discipline (for instance, keywords found in your textbook). For example:
    • Not ideal: energy from the sun
    • Better: solar panels
    • Even better: renewable energy

  4. Use only important words or concepts rather than an entire sentence.
    • Not ideal: Are Canadian youth politically engaged?
    • Better: Canadian youth political engagement

  5. Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase.
    One Search allows you to search for an exact phrase by surrounding it with quotation marks (“). For example:
    • Political engagement” will find results with that exact phrase.
    • Political engagement will find results with the word political and the word engagement. Results with the terms in a phrase will appear first, followed by results that have both terms (not in a phrase) and finally, results that have one of the terms.
    Note: Quotation marks only work with complete words. Be careful when cutting and pasting phrases into quotation marks. “Political engagement in Cana” will not retrieve “political engagement in Canada”

  6. Narrow your search results with filters.
    The left sidebar on the One Search results page offers plenty of search filters to shorten your results list so it is more specific to your search needs. For example:
    • Limit To: Show results that are
      • Full Text (you can see the full text online now)
      • Available in Library Collection (books, videos, etc. in the AC Library)
      • Peer Reviewed Journals (articles from publications that are peer-reviewed, which by default are scholarly.)
      • Print Books
      • eBooks
      • Published within a certain date range
    • Source Type: View specific types of resources (ebooks, news, etc.).
    • Subject: Add suggested search terms to narrow your search even further.

    You can select multiple options to narrow your original search results. For example, you can search for scholarly articles published within the last year on education in Ontario. For more information, view our Search Tips in our Research Guide.

More Search Tips and Tricks

Connect your search terms.

In addition to your search terms, you can add terms called Boolean operators to your search to help you combine or eliminate search terms. View our tip sheet on Boolean Search Operators for more information.

  • AND is the default
    By default, all terms in a search are combined as a phrase first and then combined with the AND operator. If you prefer, you can put AND between the search terms as long as you type it in all caps: politics AND youth.
    • Politics youth will find results that contain the phrase "politics youth" first, followed by results that discuss politics and youth in the same item.
  • Use OR to search alternatives and see more results.
    Add OR between search terms to search for results with one term or the other. Don’t forget to capitalize OR. Example: You may also try:
    • voting OR elections will return items that contain either term.
    • "renewable energy” OR “alternative energy”
  • Use NOT to exclude words and narrow your search.
    Add NOT between search terms to search for some words and not other related words. Example:
    • pasta NOT spaghetti will find results that do not include the word spaghetti.

Use Wildcards to search similar words.

Wildcard boolean operators will let you search for multiple variations of a word.

  • Use a question mark to search variations for one character.
    Add a question mark (?) in the place in the word that might have a variation. The ? will match any one character. For example:
    • Sm?th will find results for “Smith” or “Smyth”.
  • Use an asterisk to search variations of zero or more characters.
    Add an asterisk (*) in the place in the word that might have a variation. The * will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. For example:
    • Dog* will find results for “dog”, “dogs”, “dogged”, “dogma”, “dogwood”, etc. Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.


This page was modified from Seneca Libraries’ Library Search Help with permission.