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Searching Tips

Effective searching techniques to help you find information


Boolean operators is a fancy term for using the words "and," "or" and "not" to connect your search terms. Some online search systems require these to be in ALL CAPS and some do we recommend typing them in ALL CAPS to be on the safe side. Here is what they do:

  • AND forces your results to include all of your search terms. It makes your search narrower and more specific. Some databases and search engines automatically assume "and", but some do not, so include "AND" to be on the safe side. If you are not getting enough hits, you could try experimenting by deleting some of your less important terms.
    example: education AND technology    drugs AND violence AND Mexico


  • OR means that any of the terms can exist. The result must include at least one of your search terms, but doesn't have to include them all. This is a good way to include different spellings or other terms with the same meaning (synonyms). Just remember that "OR" gives you more.
    example: adolescents OR teenagers OR juveniles OR youth          theater OR theatre         television OR TV


  • NOT helps you eliminate terms that you do not want. 

    example: aids NOT hearing       high school NOT elementary    

    Some search engines use the minus sign instead. Example:  jaguar -car  (so your results will not include the car, but will include the cat)

Boolean Operators: Watch the Video


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