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Database Search Tips

Stop words

Stop words are frequently occurring, insignificant words that appear in a database record, article or web page. Common stop words include:

  • a

  • an

  • the

  • in

  • of

  • on

  • are

  • be

  • if

  • into

  • which

About stop words

Why should you care about stop words?

  • Many databases ignore common words from your search statement.

  • So you know which words to exclude from your search statement.

  • To make sure they are included if they are a significant part of your search.

  • Many databases recognize common stop words when they are part of the controlled vocabulary of subject headings and descriptors.  Example: balance of payments

  • Stop words vary by database. Check the Help screens for a list.

How can you use stop words in your search?

  • In some databases, you can use techniques to include stop words as part of the search.

  • Some databases use quotes around stop words.  Example: Title keyword= out "of" africa retrieves title: Out of Africa


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