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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Graphic Design Resources: Search Tips

Basic resources available at Ricker Library of Art and Architecture for students of graphic design.

Catalog Search Fields

If you're having trouble finding results in the Library Catalog, try changing the field in the search bar.

the library catalog search bar

For example, a keyword search will usually bring up a lot more results than a subject search.


a keyword search for commercial art--united states showing 433 results
a subject search for commercial art--united states showing 124 results

Subject Headings

Subject headings are used by library catalogers in order to group together different materials about the same topic within the library's catalog. As a researcher, this is another great tool to help you best navigate the library's catalog and discover more resources. To find these look at the right-hand column after you've performed your initial search. Under "topic" you will find similar topics that will bring you to new searches. Below are a few subject heading examples for you to explore.

Boolean Search

Boolean operators are words that can make your search wider or narrower.

  • AND will narrow your search by only returning results that include both terms (ex. graphic design AND American)
  • OR will widen your search by returning results for either term (ex. graphic design OR design)
  • NOT will narrow your search by eliminating results that include that term (ex. graphic design NOT American)

Other Tips

  • If you only want results that include the entire phrase you are searching for, try putting the phrase in quotes (ex. "visual communication")
  • If you're not sure how a word is spelled or you want to find results that include multiple versions of a word, use an asterisk to replace those letter(s) (ex. librar* to return results for library and libraries)