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  • Database Search Tips: Boolean Operators

    Use this guide to learn about some techniques that will help make your searches more effective.

    What are Boolean Operators?

    Boolean operators are a search technique that combines keywords in particular ways to help filter search results BEFORE applying any filters. Think of them like math equations. We manipulate numbers to find what we need, so we can do the same with our database searches. Some of the most common Boolean operators used are listed below. Try them out!

    Popular Boolean operators


    Boolean Operator What does it do? Relatable Math Equation
    AND Locates things that contained all the keywords listed Similar to addition (+)
    OR Locates things that contain at least one of the keywords listed Similar to multiplication (x)
    NOT Eliminates things you don't want. Locates things about one keyword, not both Similar to subtraction (-)

     

    Additional Boolean operators

    Boolean Operator Example What does it do?
    TO “student enrollment” 1973 TO 1983 Locates things within a specific range (I.e. measurements, dates) TIP: Helpful for statistical and historical data
    " " | Quotation Marks “American airlines” Locates the exact phrase within the quotation marks
    ~ | Tilde mexican ~desserts Locates synonyms of the things (e.g. cake, cookies, pudding)

    ! | Exclamation Point
    ? | Question Mark

    appeti!er | neighb?r |  wom!n Wildcards substitute for letters to help locate things with different spellings (e.g. British vs American English OR woman vs women)
    * | Asterisk child* | financ* | *day Truncation locates things with the root word present. Also useful for spelling variations (e.g. child, children; finance, finances, financial, financing…; birthday, Monday,…)
    ( ) | Parentheses (“renewable energy” and wind) and “environmental effects” Puts emphasis on words in parentheses first, kind of like Order of Operations from Math class

     

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