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Advanced searching

Advanced searching

Boolean operators


AND, OR and NOT are used to broaden or narrow your search.  This type of searching is advanced searching.




Green energy AND wind

Items containing “green energy” and “wind”. AND narrows the search resulting in fewer hits.


Solar OR wind

Items containing either solar or wind or both. OR broadens the search resulting in more hits


Green energy NOT hydroelectricity

Items containing wind but not hydroelectricity *CAUTION: it’s easy to exclude relevant  items



Parentheses (Nesting)


Use parentheses to clarify relationships between search terms.


          Example:   (solar energy or green energy) and US policy


This search looks for both “solar energy and US policy” and “green energy and US policy”


Truncation or Wildcards


A symbol at the end of a word stem provides for all variants on the word stem. The most commonly used is the asterisk (*)


          Example: educat* will retrieve educate, educating, education, educational, educator, educators, etc.


A symbol within a word provides for all possible variants inside a word or word stem. A commonly used symbol for internal truncation is !.

Example:wom!n will retrieve woman and women.

Field Searching


The Advanced Search screen of a database is a good example of field searching, where you can select a particular part of the electronic record to search.  Note that you can often combine different field searches using Boolean operators.  Most article databases have an Advanced Search interface that allows some kind of field searching.


You can search for records by a particular author, by a particular title, about a particular subject.