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Jessie Ball duPont Library

Advanced Searching Techniques

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. 

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.

Note: Google replaces NEAR with the term AROUND. To conduct the same search in Google as the above example you would use the following: alcohol AROUND (3) abuse

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.

 

Site Limiters

You can search within sites by adding site: to your search

Example: feminism site:.edu 

This example will retrieve results for the word feminism only from sites that end with the extension .edu 

Example: feminism site:nytimes.com

This example will retrieve results for the word feminism only from the various pages of the New York Times, indicated by the short URL nytimes.com (Note: The short URL for any website will be in black letters in the URL address bar while all others information will be in grey).

Additional Limiters

Exclude Terms

To exclude particular terms from your search results, you can "subtract" terms with the following notation:

Ex. Planets -Pluto

This search will yield results containing the word Planets but omit any results with the word Pluto.

Search for Synonyms

To search for related terms, you can use the following notation:

Ex. physics ~university

This search will yield results pertaining to physics at colleges as well as universities.

Search for a Range

To search for results within a particular date range, you can specify the range with the following notation:

Ex. science fiction 1920.. 1950

This search will yield results for science fiction between 1920 and 1950.

Search for a Word in a Specific Location

To search for results for a specific word in the body, title, or URL of a website use the following notation:

Ex. inurl: times

This search will yield results for websites that have the word "times" in the URL. To search within the body, use "intext" instead of "inurl." To search within the title, use "intitle" instead of "inurl."

Search for Related Sites

To search for results that are similar to a favored website, you can specify the results with the following notation:

Ex. related:nytimes.com

This search will yield results for websites that are similar to The New York Times