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General Search Tips

Summon is a database search that searches most of the library's resources, and it powers the general search on this site. These tips will help you search more effectively in Summon, or when using the "Search Anything" option on any library page.

Search Specific Fields

The default search (basic search or keyword search in advanced) will search across many fields automatically.

Searchable fields include:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Volume
  • Subject Terms
  • ISBN

"Quotation Marks"

Quotation marks are helpful for the default search (search "All" option) because it will only return items that contain every word, in the same order, that are inside the quotation marks, in that order. This will increase the accuracy of your returned results. 

Example: "Adult Learning"

Sample Results:

Search Term                         Standard Results                   Results with Quotes
Adult Learning                    457,965                             21,156
Special Education               1,070,861                           114,920

In the case of "Adult Learning," your results would be ~95% more relevant with quotes added.


Typing "title:" in the search box ahead of the title for the item, and adding quotation marks, will cause Summon to only search for items that contain the combined term in their title. This will reduce the number of results returned and increase the relevance.

Example: title: "Adult Learning"

Search Term              Standard Results                   Results with "title:" and quotes
Adult Learning           457,965                                   1,349
Special Education       1,070,861                                9,107 

In the case of "Adult Learning," your results would be ~99% more relevant with "title:" and quotes added.

Exclude or Include Terms - Boolean operators

Search offers the following Boolean operations: OR, NOT and AND. The operators must be written in ALL CAPS.

  • This can be combined with quoted terms, such as "local food" OR "sustainable eating".
  • To exclude items in search, use the NOT operator or the "-" character before a term.
    • Example: "animal NOT dog" - results will not include the term "dog".

Similar Words - Proximity Operators

  • Use the tilde (~) character at the end of  multiple words
    • Example: "local~10 food" for results to include instances where the terms are 10 words apart or less.
  • Use the tilde (~) character at the end of a word to match similar terms.
    • Example: "Lead~" will match "Wead", "Veade", and "Tead."


Searches using the search "all" option can be performed using the wildcards ? and *. Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.

  • The question mark (?) will match any one character.
    • Example: "Ols?n" will return results for "Olsen" or "Olson"
  • The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word.
    • Example: "Cha*r" would match "Chapter", "Chair", and "Char"
    • Example: "Temp*" will match "Temptation", "Temple" and "Temporary"


Refine your search

Use the controls on the left side of the page to refine and filter the search results by:

  • content type
  • subject terms
  • publication date
  • location

At the top left of the page, there are more helpful options to narrow your results:

  • “Items with full text online” is helpful when you are off-campus or the library is closed.
  • “Limit to articles from scholarly publications, including peer-review” is helpful when you want only scholarly materials.


In the top right corner of the results, there is a drop down menu with sorting options. You can sort by relevance or date. By default, search results are sorted by relevance.

Organize and save resources from your search

You can save books and media items from your search results to the temporary folder in Summon. Items can be saved from multiple searches - the folder keeps your list until you close Summon.

  • Add an item to the folder: click the folder/plus sign icon at the right-hand side of the item’s title.
  • View items in the temporary folder: select the “Saved Items” link on the menu bar at the bottom right side of the page.
  • From the list of saved items, you can:
    • Format the list in a specific citation style (APA, MLA, etc.)
    • Email or print the list
      NOTE: Items you put into this folder will not be saved after you end your Summon session. You must email or print your saved items for later use.