Skip to Main Content

Greek Subject Guide

Catalyst Books Search


Honing your Keywords

Shortening your keywords --  You can search words with a common root by "truncating" them with an *.

For example,

Athen*  will search Athens, Athena, Athenian and so on.

Keeping words in phrases together -- It's important to keep words in phrases together to keep them in context.  For example,

"Greek city state" would bring up items on the Greek city-state. 

If you didn't use the quotation marks you would have items in your results list that would include these three words but not together as a phrase.  For instance, one of the items would be the Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics since it covers mathematics in the Greek world, engineering in the Neapolitan state, and mathematics in an ancient Greek city.

Keywords & Subject Links

Keywords are the critical words used to describe your topic in the literature.  For example:  Roman gods.  Notice -- the less important words like:  an, in, the, of  are left out of the statement.  Every word you ask for has to be present in the item you're retrieving, so just use the words you really need.

Subject links are provided by the Library of Congress cataloging librarians to describe your topic consistently.  For example, you might be interested in Roman gods but the most important work is titled, "The Divine Pantheon"  which doesn't use any of the words you chose initially.

So, your best searching technique in library catalogs would be to:

  1. Search using keywords to find at least one item of interest
  2. Use the subject links at the bottom of the screen to find other items the Library of Congress librarians deemed to be about your topic even if the exact words weren't used in the title

When you use a huge catalog like World Cat, it's good to search using subject terms you identified in Catalyst rather than by keyword.