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AND (in capitals) groups two search terms together and eliminates results that don't include both.
Example: weather AND storms:

  • Purple area in middle shows focused results.
  • Some databases and search engines (such as Google) include AND even if you don't write it.
  • AND narrows results.
  • Some use + instead of AND.

OR expands a search to include both terms.
Results include one term or the other.
Example: weather OR storms

  • If you're not getting enough results, OR finds more for you.


NOT removes terms from a search.
Narrows your search.
Example: weather NOT storms

Red area shows results, any mention of storms (even if weather is present) are removed.

  • NOT ignores certain results that you don't want.
  • Some use - instead of NOT.

(Parentheses) require terms inside to be searched first.
Similar to BEDMAS (brackets is first letter)
Example: (Canada OR Ontario) AND weather

Purple area shows results, so results are compound search of:

  • Canada AND weather
  • Ontario AND weather
  • Parentheses also known as NESTING

"Quotation marks" search for a series of words two or more words in EXACT ORDER.
Example: "Canadian Shield"
Canadian Shield without quotation marks could find results:

  • that mention Canadian
  • that mention shield
  • as well as those for Canadian Shield

You could end up with results about Canadian money or medieval armour.
Search for song title by entering a few words in quotations.
Quotation eliminate finding root word in larger words

  • "challenge" instead of challenged, challenger, challenges, etc.,

Truncation* broadens a search to find multiple endings and/or spellings.
Add an asterisk * to end of root word.
Example: child*

  • child
  • childs
  • children
  • childrens
  • childhood

Wildcards substitute ? for a letter in word.
The wildcard can subsitute 0 or 1 character.
Helpful when spelling might be different.
Example: colo?r

  • color, colour

Example: wom?n

  • woman, women, womyn

Digital Literacy








Online Resources

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National Film Board of Canada - Wikipedia

National Film Board of Canada provides free streaming to some of their content. 

Videos marked CAMPUS require a subscription. 

TVDSB does not have a subscription to access these films.





Once you have determined your topic area, conducted background reading, and developed a research question, you should brainstorm similar terms (synonyms) or related terms, that represent each of the key concepts in your research question.


Topic Area: Sustainable Development

Background Reading: consulted the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Wikipedia, the print World Book in my school Learning Commons, and CBC News.

Research Question: How do recent activities in the Canada oil industry reflect the changing attitudes of the Canadian federal government towards environmental protection in Canada?

      Main Concepts in Research Question:

  1. Oil Industry
  2. Canadian Federal Government
  3. Environmental Protection

Developing Search Terms: Synonyms and Similar Terms 

Oil Industry                      Canadian Federal Government       Environmental Protection 

oil sands

oil and gas

tar sands 





Conservative Government

Federal Government

Canadian Government

Prime Minister Harper


Progressive Conservatives


sustainable development 



global warming

environmenal change



Watch the video, read the instructions then use this worksheet to narrow your topic and identify keywords for searching.
*Content on this page borrowed with permission from UCDSB Learning Commons Coordinator, Kristen Hearns*
Check out Waterloo DSB LLC's Research Questions Page












Table Of Contents Index Glossary
  • also called "Contents" or "Table of Content"
  • found near the beginning of a text
  • lists the main parts of the resource in order
  • indicates page numbers/links for each part
  • for a visual example CLICK HERE
  • similar to a Table of Contents, but even more extensive
  • found near the end of a resource
  • lists specific subjects in alphabetical order and their corresponding pages
  • used to help the reader effectively find information
  • for a visual example CLICK HERE
  • also called "Vocabulary"
  • found at the end of a text
  • identifies in alphabetical order all new, uncommon or specialized vocabulary within a resource
  • provides definitions of the vocabulary listed
Website Tools Database Tools Search Engines
  • navigation and search bars
  • provides additional web links
  • About Us and "footers" at the bottom of the page often provide the information for a citation
  • BACK and HELP buttons
  • search bar
  • reads texts
  • provides citation
  • provides additional web links
  • use of copyright images 
  • use of "HELP" tips
  • phrase searches (used to narrow results) using quotation marks: "Canada's trading partners"
  • wildcard searches (used to expand results) using an asterisk: fish*
  • strict filtering
  Visual Tools  


(charts, graphs, etc.)

  • show relationships
  • make comparisons
  • connect ideas
  • colour and size elements are important considerations