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These are more advanced tips for searching in the Library catalog or a database. If you need help developing keywords before you get started searching, check out our guide on Brainstorming Keywords for a Search.
The large number of citations in the library's catalog and databases may require one to limit otherwise broad or general searches in order to get a manageable (and relevant!) number of results. That's where Boolean Operators come in. They allow one to limit or expand their search depending on the need.
AND - tells the database to include results that have both of the terms you're searching which will narrow your results
OR - tells the database to include results that have any of the terms and is used to expand your results
NOT - tells the database to exclude results with a certain word thereby narrowing the search
When searching in the box on our homepage, you can use Boolean operators right away:
However it might be easier to go to the Advanced search to better format your search:
In advanced search, you'll see AND is the automatic option. Put one keyword onto each line:
If you click on the AND, a dropdown with the other Boolean Operators will appear:
Remember that AND will help narrow a search, OR will expand it. Notice the different search results here:
Remember NOT can be used to help limit a search. See in this example below how more than one Boolean Operator can work in a search:
Boolean Operators are in our databases too and work the same way. You can add as many lines with keywords in a search as you'd like:
Wildcards and Truncation are other search strategies you can use to help narrow or expand a search. All of our databases should support these operators.
Truncation - uses a symbol at the end of a word to find different variations. The symbols most commonly used are *, !, ?
Wildcards - uses a symbol to retrieve variations of letters within a word. The symbols most commonly used are ?, $, *
|?||Search: wom?n Retrieve: woman, women|
|*||Search: educat* Retrieve: education, educate, educated, educator, educators|
Search eight$ Retrieve: eight, eighth, eighty
|!||Search: gr?y Retrieve: gray, grey|
Some databases vary on which symbols they prefer you to use. You can find this out in the Help documents of a database or if you need further help, ask a librarian!