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Online Search Strategies

Searching with Boolean Operators

Boolean Operators

AND

Type AND between your keywords to narrow your search. The database or search engine will only retrieve those articles or web pages that contain both words. Using AND will decrease the number or hits or articles or web pages in your result list.

Example: school AND crime

Note: Some databases and search engines (such as Google and Craigslist) allow you to type a plus sign (+) in front of a keyword when doing a basic search. This works the same as AND.

Example: +school +crime

 

OR

OR Type OR between your keywords to broaden your search. The database or search engine will retrieve those articles or web pages that contain at least one of these words. Using OR will increase the number of articles or web pages in your result list (especially if not used in combination with AND or NOT). Use OR between keywords that are synonyms or have similar meanings. Example: baby OR infant

 

NOT

Type NOT before a keyword to exclude that keyword from your search. Using NOT will decrease the number of articles or web pages in your result list. The best use of NOT is when you are searching for a keyword that may have multiple meanings.

Example: bat NOT baseball

 

Combining Boolean Operators

Use parentheses ( ) to keep combination searches in order. In the example below, the database or search engine will retrieve articles or web pages that must contain the word law and at least one of the words in parentheses.

Example: (ecstasy OR mdma) AND law

 

Web Tutorials

Other schools have put together demos and tutorials on various search techniques.

Database Search Help

Look for the database's Help page.  There is usually a link to the Help section of each database (e.g., Look for: Help, Tips, FAQAdvanced Search). They usually provide good examples of how to search. You can always ask a librarian as well.