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Advanced Searching

General Guides to Searching

Recommended Search Strategy from the University of California, Berkeley

Electronic Searching from Duke University

AND, OR, NOT - Boolean Logic

What is Boolean Logic? (AND, OR, NOT)
AND, OR, NOT are the words that you use to tie concepts together when you are searching.
See the Boolean diagram for further explanation.

More on Boolean Logic from Duke University Libraries

Really Advanced Boolean Logic with diagrams from Colorado State University Libraries

Phrase Searching

Search on an exact phrase or sequence of words. Most databases and search engines use double quotes to search on words as a phrase.
Example: "attention deficit disorder"
Example: "native american"
Example: "sustainable development"

Field Searching

Databases and Indexes are collections of records; each record represents a book, an article, a chapter, or other type of source. Records are made up of "fields," for example, a title field, an author field, a date field, etc.
Dont forget to look at the subject heading or descriptor fields that tell you what the item is about.

To use Field Searching in most online databases:
Enter your search word(s) into the search box.
Most databases use Keyword as the default field search.
Change the field to the one you wish to search: title, author, etc.
For example if you search on a word(s) as a Title field search, the catalog will return all items with that word(s) in the title.

Field Searching from Duke University Libraries

Truncation and Wildcards

Truncation allows you to search on the root of a word, and so include variations on the ending of a word. The asterisk is usually used to truncate words.
Example: medic* will find medicine, medical, medic, etc.
Example: creat* will find create, creating, creators, creation, creatures, etc.

A Wildcard is a symbol placed within a search word to pick up variations on that word. Different symbols are used as Wildcards; many databases us a ?
Example: wom?n will find women and woman.
Example: gr?y will find alternate spellings of grey or gray.

Truncation and Wildcard from Duke University Libraries

Proximity, Adjacency, and Near

These types of searching allow you to search for words that are close to each other, but not in an exact word order.
Proximity, Adjacency, and Near from Duke University Libraries


Limitors allow you to limit your search to only those items that meet certain criteria, such as published within a specific date range, for example, 1980 -2005, or to only those items in English. Some examples of limitors are: publication date, language, material or format type (such as book, article, video, etc.), and peer reviewed sources.