Formulating search and equivalent words

Search words

When you have formulated your search question, the next step is to think about the search words that you could use to find information.

Identifying search words or keywords will help you find quality information on search engines, bibliographic databases or online information portals.

Examples of keywords are highlighted in bold below:

  1. How does autism in children affect their sleep patterns?
  2. How effective is drug therapy compared to CBT in treating depression and anxiety?

Equivalent words

It is important to consider other terms to use when formulating a search question.

Be aware that using different search words will return different results. It is always a good idea to try a couple and compare the results.


Equivalent words: employment, job, occupation.

Equivalent words: anxiety, worry, pressure, strain.