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Advanced Searching Techniques: Phrases, Operators, and Wildcards, Oh My!

Phrase Searching

To search for an exact phrase (where the words are in a specific order), type quotation marks around your search terms. If you do not include quotation marks, you will get results with items that contain the individual words in the phrase, but they may not necessarily be located together or in the order you want. 

Wildcard/Truncation Searching

To increase the number of hits in a search, consider using a truncation symbol. With truncation, you can search for multiple variants on a single word stem:

Example: Searching for anarch* will retrieve results for anarchy, anarchism, anarchist, and anarchists.

Using a wildcard symbol will replace one letter in a search term in order to find common variants on a search term:

Example: Searching for wom?n wil retrieve results for woman, women, and even the lesser used womyn.

 

Boolean Operators

Boolean Searching is a database search method based on the principles of Boolean logic, originally developed by the British mathematician George Boole in the mid-nineteenth century. Boolean searching allows you to combine search terms in specific ways for effective matches.

  • If you are retrieving too many records on your topic, try adding another search term with the connector AND.
  • If you are retrieving too few records on your topic, try adding another search term with the connector OR.    
  • If you are retrieving too many records on an unrelated topic, try eliminating a word with the connector NOT.

 

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