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Using good keywords is a very important aspect of your search. A keyword is an important word that should give you more relevant and reliable results than other words. Choosing the right keywords is not an exact science, however. 


So, where do you get keywords?

. Understand your topic.
. Read purposely and keep track of meaningful words you encounter. 
. Use an online thesaurus to find synonyms.
. Try thinking like the author.
Visualize your answer.


Example of keywords for an essay on imperialism:


Ex. 1st tier keywords are keywords directly related to your topic        

. imperialism - empire          

. colonisation - colonial        

. expansionism            

. conquest                 

. independence          

. name of country (countries)     


 Ex. 2nd tier keywords are words that will help define your topic 

. impact

. legacy

. motivation, causes

. environment, geography, resources

 . “primary sources”, artefacts, documents, images

. timeline


1. Keywords can be synonyms, antonyms, related words, phrases, dates, names of events, of people, etc.
    E.g., of related words: "war of independence", "revolutionary war", "american revolution"

2. Watch for alternative spellings of proper names. They are often spelled differently in different languages.
    E.g. of alternative spelling: 1) Mao Tse-Tung / Zedong    2) 
Toussaint Louverture / L'Ouverture

3. Put yourself in the author's shoes and think about words he might have used to write on the topic.
    E.g. of similar terms: 1) teens, teenagers, adolescents, "young adults"   2) anorexia, bulimia, "eating disorders"  3) nutrition, food, diet, "healthy eating"

4. Think of words that could help you narrow your search.

    E.g. of narrowing terms: "primary source", controversy, study, analysis, statistics, infographics, table, causes, advantages

The order of the keywords in your query is important: [paris hilton] will not give you the same results as [hilton paris]

Keyword Challenge

Try the online "Keyword Challenge" and test your savoir faire!