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ART 336: History of Graphic Design: Developing Keywords


KEYWORDS carry some of the most important meanings that will open doors to vast amounts of information. You can develop keywords by searching reference sources, books, websites, and thesauri, among other materials.

Creating KEYWORD lists are important in that you will use these terms to search library tools such as the library catalog and article research databases. 

Graphic Design Terms

Design is a very broad term! Be sure to use quotation marks to make the search engine find what you're looking for. Try these search terms, with the quotation marks:

  • "graphic design"
  • "communication design"
  • "visual communication design"

Where can I find background information?

It is important to gather background information on a topic (or object, in this case) before diving into doing research. It can supply context information to give a better understanding of a topic, and it can also be a great way to start developing keywords to use during the research process. Background information on a topic can be gathered from a variety of sources, including textbooks, books, reference materials like encyclopedias, and reputable websites.


Look in the call numbers NC-NK!

Keywords to be use when searching for secondary sources

Based on a visual analysis of the selected object from Special Collections and some additional background research conducted on the object and the time period surrounding the object, here are some preliminary keywords I'll consider using when searching for secondary sources:

  • food rations/rationing 
  • ration coupon/stamp/card/book
  • poster 
  • propaganda 
  • Spain 
  • Europe 
  • World War II 
  • Spanish Civil War 
  • Francisco Franco 
  • Adolf Hitler 
  • Axis Powers 
  • chromolithography
  • "graphic design" or "communication design" or "visual communication design"
  • ...and many more

How to search with Boolean operators:

kw:modern* OR kw:"graphic design" = 5,100,000 results

kw:modern* OR kw:bauhaus AND kw:"graphic design"  = 2,600 results

(kw:modern* NOT kw:bauhaus) AND kw:"graphic design"  = 2,400 results

kw:modern* AND kw:"graphic design"  = 1,900 results

su:modern* AND su:"graphic design" = 206 result

AND = combines two search terms, making the search narrower

OR =  includes synonyms and broadens the search

NOT = narrows the search by eliminating portions of the search

kw: = keyword search

su: subject heading search

modern* = look for words with the root word (i.e. "modern" "modernists" "modernity")

"graphic design" = searches the phrase, not the two separate words (i.e. "graphic design" not "graphic" AND "design")