I have too many search results. How do I narrow my search?

There are several approaches you can use to focus your search and get a smaller number of relevant search results.

Additional Search Terms

Try adding another relevant term or two to your search. For ideas, skim through the first couple of pages of search results you have to look for any specific terms and phrases that appear in several results. Generally, the more terms you add to your search, the fewer results that will match. 


Use filters to exclude a portion of your initial search results. Typically, you will find these filters along the left side of the search results page. Consider narrowing your search based on the following:

Search Phrases

When searching, use quotation marks around a phrase of two or more words to receive a smaller number of more focused search results. The quotation marks define your search so that you will retrieve only results which contain

  • all of the words
  • together
  • in the specified order

For example, the search term "prescription drugs" with quotation marks will yield fewer results than a search for prescription drugs. The latter would include results that mention drugs and prescriptions separately.

Search Logic

Adding NOT before a search term allows you to filter out any results that include that term. For example, if you were trying to find information on cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church but found too many items about the species of bird, you could try searching for cardinals NOT birds to help eliminate the irrelevant results.

Ask the Library

If you continue to find too many search results, the topic you chose to research may be too broad. You may find better results by researching a more specific aspect of the topic you were originally researching.  Librarians can help you focus your topic.