Basics of Keyword Searching
1. Operators AND, OR, NOT combine terms using Boolean logic.
Connects terms to retrieve every record in which either, both, or any one of the words appear, regardless of their position in the records. OR is usually used to combine like concepts, synonymous terms, or variant spellings. OR broadens the search.
college students or undergraduates
communication or speech
Connects terms to retrieve every record in which all of the specified words appear, regardless of their position in the records. AND is usually used to combine unlike concepts. AND narrows the search.
television and advertising
children and handicapped and language
Excludes any words following NOT in the search statements and retrieves records in which only the first term appears. The NOT operator should be used with caution.
minorities not hispanics
Truman’s Library Catalog uses AND NOT.
minorities and not hispanics
2. Phrase searching
When you type in a phrase, different things can happen:
In Truman’s Library Catalog if you enter television broadcasting the system will look for the words as a phrase in the title, and then AND the words television and broadcasting.
To search only for a phrase, put it in quotes: "television broadcasting"
3. Truncation (*) enables you to search for portions of words.
communicat* Retrieves communication, communicating, etc.
Note: Truncation symbol varies with the database.
4. Nesting enables you to make complex searches.
Use parentheses to indicate which terms should be searched together.
(media or television or journalism) and elections
(Venn diagrams from Duke University Libraries:
Used with permission.)