Additional Tips for Foreign-Language Searching

Which language should I use in my search?


  • When you are searching HOLLIS, WorldCat, or another catalog or index that is made up of descriptions of works rather than (or in addition to) the full text of the works, you will need to use both English and the original language.
    • Use both languages for general topic words (e.g., “literatura” OR “literature”), where you are searching abstracts and chapter headings and other information that could be in any language
    • Start with English for official subject terms (e.g., “Colombian literature”), especially in HOLLIS, whose “subjects” are from the Library of Congress Subject Headings (
    • Start with the original language for proper names, especially titles of works, but also sometimes events and occasionally concepts, use the original language (e.g., “Cien años de soledad”). Switch to English and/or transliterations if you don’t get good results.


What about searches for non-Roman scripts?


  • For non-Roman scripts, search in both the original language and in transliteration
  • If you work in a language that uses a non-Roman script, expect to experience some hiccups in your searching.
  • Search in the original script: current best practice is for items to be cataloged by their original titles, in the original script, and HOLLIS accepts non-Roman scripts in the search box.
  • Search in transliteration: many older records have only transliterations, so it's important to try your search both in the original and in Roman transliteration. Except for alif in Korean transliterations, HOLLIS ignores diacritical marks, but systems differ on this, so try searching both with and without diacritical marks.
  • Best practice follows the Transliteration Tables for non-Roman Scripts, from the American Library Association.