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Boolean Search Tips Print Page
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Boolean Search Tips

And - combines search terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, education and technology finds articles that contain both terms.

Or - combines search terms so that each search result contains at least one of the terms. For example, education or technology finds results that contain either term.

Not - excludes terms so that each search result does not contain any of the terms that follow it. For example, education not technology finds results that contain the term education but not the term technology.

Generalized Search: dog or cat and show or parade -  this search will retrieve everything on dogs, as well as cat shows as well as everything on parades.

Focused Search: (dog or cat) and (show or parade) the parentheses controls the query to only find articles about shows or parades that reference dogs or cats.

Quotation MarksTypically, when a phrase is enclosed by double quotations marks, the exact phrase is searched. If a phrase contains stop words, the stop words will not be searched, but the searchable words will be searched in the order as entered. A stop word will never be searched for in an EBSCOhost database, even if it is enclosed in double quotation marks. A search query with stop words only (i.e. no other terms) yields no results.

 

Proximity, Near Operator, Within Operator

Proximity - You can use a proximity search to search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words (or fewer) of each other in the databases. Proximity searching is used with a keyword or Boolean search.  The proximity operators are composed of a letter (N or W) and a number (to specify the number of words). The proximity operator is placed between the words that are to be searched, as follows:

Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within five words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear.

For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.

Within Operator (W) - In the following example, W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.

For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

 

Wildcard (?) and Truncation (*) Symbols

Wildcards

The wildcard is represented by a question mark ? or a pound sign #.

To use the ? wildcard, enter your search terms and replace each unknown character with a ?. EBSCOhost finds all citations of that word with the ? replaced by a letter.

For example, type ne?t to find all citations containing neat, nest or next. EBSCOhost does not find net because the wildcard replaces a single character.

Note: When searching for a title that ends in a question mark, the symbol should be removed from the search in order to ensure results will be returned.

To use the # wildcard, enter your search terms, adding the # in places where an alternate spelling may contain an extra character. EBSCOhost finds all citations of the word that appear with or without the extra character.

For example, type colo#r to find all citations containing color or colour.

Truncation

Truncation is represented by an asterisk (*). To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an *. EBSCOhost finds all forms of that word.

For example, type comput* to find the words computer or computing.

Note: The Truncation symbol (*) may also be used between words to match any word.

For example, a midsummer * dream will return results that contain the exact phrase, a midsummer night's dream.

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