Unlock the secrets to making the most out of your time here in Cambridge.

If you need a search strategy, want to know how to search Google like a pro or find out the University events that are not to be missed, we share our top tips to get you ahead.

CJBS Database Guide

The CJBS Database Guide will help learners navigate business and financial databases offered by the Information and Library Services team. Check out this page for all sorts of information, including information on remote access to library databases, tips on working from home, a section on academic writing, suggestions on note-taking and more.

Evernote: getting the most out of Evernote

Evernote is a brilliant multi-tasking tool that can help you to become more efficient and better organised. It’s free, available on almost all platforms and with an easy to use web clipper, you can use it for:

  • Note taking during class, conferences, meetings, etc.
  • Create a to-do list and keep track of your tasks
  • Save or ‘clip’ articles, web pages or anything you need directly from your browser
  • Take snapshots of slides, whiteboards and posters, and easily search the text in the photos

Already using Evernote? Find below a few tricks and tools that we recommend to expand your Evernote’s functionality and get the most out of it.  

Email in notes

Turn your email into notes, reminders or attachments directly from your inbox. Add tags, select a notebook and set a reminder by simply adding a few characters on the subject line

Add IFTTT (if this, then that) recipes

Use these time-saving tools to populate your Evernote directly from other applications. For instance, save all your tweets, or a specific #hashtag, to Evernote after attending a conference. Or when you are working on a project, save your files in Dropbox to Evernote.  There are many more recipes to try, and you can even create your own.

Watch folder

Create a new folder on your computer to automatically send files to Evernote. Contents of your watch folder can be directed to a specific notebook or tag.

Use tags

Notes can only belong to one notebook, so tags can be a better option to organise your content. They are more flexible and they are unlimited, notes can have multiple tags and they can be organised into groups.

Google searching: getting Google to work for you

Google’s really good at finding things fast but did you know that Google is only showing you a tiny percent of the web? We have some fantastic tips and tricks that you can use to maximise the power of Google to your advantage, cutting through the paid content to get to exactly what you want. 

Use speech marks

By putting your search term in “speech marks”, Google will search just for that phrase, helping focus your results down to something more manageable.

Use time and location filters

Don’t forget the Search Tools options. You can limit your search to information from the past year for up-to-date content and even limit your results by a certain country.

Search within certain URLs

By combining your search with inurl you can get information from specific domains; for example, your search term plus inurl:.gov.uk to find results just from UK government websites. This also works with the US government (.gov) as well as with UK universities (.ac.uk) and US universities (.edu).

Search for certain file types

You might want to find a PDF report, or a PowerPoint presentation (ppt), or even a spreadsheet (xls) with lots of stats. Google will show specific results using the filetype function. So look for your search term plus filetype:ppt to find PowerPoint presentations, for example.

Understanding complex terms

By using the define function, Google will provide a short definition of any concept. So look for define: EBITDA to get to grips with tricky terms for your course.

Want to see how this all works? Check out our downloadable guide for more detailed help.

Download our Google searching guide

Hack Cambridge: new achievement unlocked

It’s easy to be pulled into the Cambridge Judge bubble, but there’s a whole range of activities going on in and around the University that could enhance the skills you’re learning as part of your programme. Centrally organised courses can help you learn SQL or Portuguese, better English pronunciation or MATLAB. There’s a chance to attend public lectures by respected academics in a range of subjects, or get involved in University-wide research and initiatives. Here’s our run down of things worth making time for in your schedule:

University Information Services courses

Increasingly, coding skills are becoming more attractive to employers, and will help you to offer a well round set of skills whether you are interested in finance or technology. The University offers free taught and self-taught courses for staff and students looking to brush up on software skills, or learn something completely new.

View the full listing of University training

Cambridge Events

Cambridge attracts world renowned speakers, and regularly offers public lectures and talks open to all members. One-off or part of a festival, these talks are an opportunity to connect with the wider university and gain insight from famous names.

Big events not to be missed
  • Boat race
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Science Festival
  • Festival of Ideas
  • Open Cambridge

Find out more about public events

Find out more about public lectures

Cambridge museums

Whether you enjoy art or artefacts, the University’s museum’s collections offer food for thought on a lunch break, or for a free weekend. Within a 10 minute walk of the School, you can reach the Botanic Garden, an oasis of calm in a busy city, the acclaimed Fitzwilliam museum, the fascinating Whipple museum of the history and philosophy of science, the Museums of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Earth Sciences- perfect if you like dinosaurs.

View out the full collection of museums

Language Centre

If you’re looking to learn a new language or improve an existing one, the University’s Language Centre offers courses for loan, a fully equipped language lab and online learning options.

Visit the Language Centre website

Printers: become a printing expert

Are you using the MFDs just to print and copy? Raise your print game with these top tips.


Select the scan-to-me function, log in and send yourself a PDF copy of any document.

Simply follow the steps on the screen to customise the format.

Staple and punch

Get the printer to do the hard work so you don’t have to. Just select these options before you send it to the printer.

Print it your way

Single sided or duplex, enlarge or reduce. Check the menus before you hit print.

ID cards

When copying your ID card, select the ID card option and it will recreate the ID card for you.

Changed your mind?

You can always force the MFD to print in black and white, you can also increase the number of copies you want to print after you’ve sent it to the printer.

Pro tip

The drawers are self-closing, so there’s no need to slam them.

Download a detailed guide on how to print, copy and scan

Download the multifunction devices login guidance

Instructive posters are by the printers. If you need any help, just ask us or IT.

Qualtrics: Survey away

There are many free survey software applications available on the web, such as Survey Monkey, but why use them when you could be using Qualtrics, a powerful survey tool available with no cost to you?

It would be a shame not to take advantage of such a powerful survey tool that allows you to do pretty much anything you could think of:

  • Customisation: make it look how you want and even add images and videos
  • Collaboration: share the workload creating the survey and analysing the results
  • Unlimited: however many questions (100+ types to choose from) and responses you need
  • Data storage: Compliant with GDPR requirements

Make use of Qualtrics while you’re here, for market research, gathering feedback or just for fun polls. Read our blog post on Qualtrics or watch our introductory video for more help and guidance.

To set up your account members of the School just need to follow the guidance here and sign in using your @cam credentials. If you need any help, just ask.

Search strategy: here are three for you

Databases and websites work in different ways, but there are some things you can do on most databases to try to improve your results.

Too many results?

Often a case of using too many keywords, or not grouping your terms in quotation marks- usually called a phrase search- this will make sure you are looking for those words together, not just those words in the same page or paragraph.

eg “changing boardroom culture”

“positive correlation”

You can try removing keywords from your search by using a minus symbol, or the excluded terms box from the advanced search option.

eg “General Electric” -aviation, to get results about GE’s other interests.

Not enough results?

You can try adding more keywords or product names, but it might be that you’re using the wrong keywords in the first place. As you read around your topic make a note of the terms and vocabulary associated with it: try searching on these industry-recognised terms.

It may also be that you need to use your imagination and come up with a list of synonyms for your search, online synonym generators and thesauruses can help. Don’t forget the sad story of the student who searched fruitlessly for cars without thinking to try automobiles.

Results too general?

It might be best to ditch keywords all together! Often databases have the option to use post search faceting: those menus at the side allowing you to change the date range or specify just full text results. These also offer the chance to amend your search using indexed search terms, such as specific countries or companies. This is different from just adding keywords, work has been done by the data supplier to ensure a given article or report refers to your specified company, subject or geolocation.

Webapps: for productivity

There are many web tools that can make your life easier. The following adds-on can save you time and help you become more efficient in your study. These are our top picks for Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers – let us now your favourites.


Checker Plus for Gmail

Great for managing multiple email accounts. It has a well-designed, intuitive layout that is very easy to use. The app simplifies your workflow and provides a fast access to your emails.

Evernote Web Clipper

An excellent app for your research: helps you to keep truck of useful articles and information you’ve found on the internet. Simple to use – just Clip and Save in Evernote and view from anywhere.


Your intention was to finish the assignment, look through a few article on the topic of your research, oh, and read the complete “War and peace”. No, not happened… Facebook stuff and YouTube cats were on your way of achieving greatness. Not anymore! StayFocusd limits the amount of time you spend on not-so-useful websites. You allocate, say, one hour per day for these websites and after that you simply will not be able to access them for the rest of the day. Can be a life-saver for chronic procrastinators…



This extension prevents plugins (Flash, Java) from automatic loading. If you are annoyed and irritated with videos, music and radio chats that start playing as soon as you open a webpage then this app is for you. Helps you staying sane (and therefore more productive).


You’ve come across a great article or video but don’t have time to read it or watch straight away? No worries – Pocket can save it for you for later. You can even access your saved treasures off-line – great while travelling!  The layout of articles is clear and reading-friendly, it’s possible to add your own tags and labels – and become more organized.


A really useful little thing in fighting your pet hate – advertisements. Ads are everywhere on the internet and so can be very annoying and interruptive when you are trying to study hard. Stop them with AdBlock. Less distractions – more work done!



A very easy tool for saving screenshots. When installed a lovely feather icon appears in your toolbar. Just click on it when you want to capture a webpage, picture or even a video. It’s possible to add text or edit screenshots.


Want to see your online day in beautiful chats and graphics and learn where you’ve spent all your browsing time? This app can do it for you – and more. RescueTime automatically ranks websites you visit and then comes up with messages like this: “You are usually around 85% productive”. Fun to read it out load in a mechanical voice (optional). All in all it can be enjoyable or sobering experience…

Colourful Tabs

Are you a fan of colour coding? Do you enjoy using stickers of various colours when reading a textbook and you notebook is full of highlights? Then this app has a visual appeal for you. Pick your own shades for different tasks and it will be easy to navigate and group tabs. Looks pretty and helps focusing you mind!

Can’t get enough and want to learn more about webapps? Check out our two blog posts below to find loads of other cool resources.

Read the “Work smarter save time productivity apps” blog post

Read the “Cool webapps for fun and creativity” blog post

Zotero: getting started

Zotero is a free, easy to use and essential piece of software that will help you to create citations and bibliographies. Save articles, web pages, book references and almost anything you find on the web on your Zotero library, and use them later when writing your essays.

Below is a quick checklist of what you need to get started.

  1. Download Zotero: choose between the Firefox plugin, or the Standalone version to use with different browsers.
  2. Install the browser connector and the plugins for Word or LibreOffice.
  3. Create an account so you can sync your library across devices and have access to your references online
  4. Download the Cite Them Right – Harvard citation style file.
  5. Download the Getting Started on Zotero guide.

Need more help? Book a one-to-one with us or check out our Plagiarism & Referencing blog post for more information.