Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Pacific Lutheran University

Inquiry. Service. Leadership. Care.


New Books

Finding Books: Keywords and Subject Headings

Library books are cataloged by title, author, publisher, date of publication, and subject heading. A subject heading is an assigned term that tells you something of what the book is about. 

For example, you might come up with the keyword "organic chemistry". Relevant books might be cataloged with the subject headings "Chemistry, organic", or related concepts such as "Organic compounds -- synthesis" or "Enzymes" or "Organic solvents". 

  1. Start by brainstorming keywords. This only takes a few minutes but can save you tons of time later. Think about your topic, and write down every word you can think of related to that topic.
  2. Then, go to the library catalog and start searching. You'll find at least a few books related to your topic.
  3. Look at their catalog records and take note of the subject headings listed under the item details:









You can even click these subject headings to find more books cataloged in the same way. 

Online Encyclopedias and Handbooks