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Tips for Searching
Combining Terms with Boolean Operators
- OR will retrieve items that are indexed by either or both search terms. OR is useful when you need to find more resources - it helps you broaden your search and retrieve larger result sets. Example: groundwater OR ground water
- AND will retrieve items indexed by both terms. AND is useful when you are retrieving too many items in your searches - it helps you narrow your search and retrieve smaller result sets. Example: ground water AND contamination
- NOT will retrieve items that are described by one search term but not by the other search term. NOT is useful when you are retrieving items that are not really related to your topic - it helps you narrow your search and be more exacting. Example: ((ground NOT lake) AND water) AND contamination
Wildcard (?) and Truncation (*) Symbols are used to create searches where there are unknown characters, multiple spellings or various endings. Neither the wildcard nor the truncation symbol can be used as the first character in a search term.
- The wildcard is represented by a question mark (?). To use the wildcard, enter your search terms and replace each unknown character with a ?. The database finds all citations of that word with the ? replaced by a letter. Example: type ne?t to find all citations containing neat, nest or next. Net is not included in the results because the wildcard replaces a single character.
- Truncation is represented by an asterisk (*). To use truncation, enter the root of a search term and replace the ending with an *. The database finds all forms of that word. Example: type comput* to find the words computer or computing.
Proximity Searching is used to search for two or more words that occur within a specified number of words (or fewer) of each other in the database(s). 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. 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 uou entered them. Example: type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.