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Monmouth College Hewes Library

2d. Search Strategies

Boolean Searching

Boolean operators (connector words) such as AND, OR, and NOT, create phrases based on rules of search logic.  

Operator Examples Results                                                                                      

business AND ethics
cookery AND Spain

Retrieves records that contain ALL of the search terms.

hotels OR motels
www OR world wide web
theater OR theatre

Retrieves records that contain ANY of the search terms, but
does not necessarily include all of them.

java NOT coffee
Clinton NOT (William OR Bill)    

Excludes records containing the second search term.  

Truncation/Wildcard Symbols

Truncation and wildcard symbols can broaden your search and allow you to look for variations of words.
For example, searching sport* would bring up variations such as sport, sports, sporting, and sporty.

Note: The truncation symbol varies depending on the electronic resource you are searching. For more information, consult the database’s “help” or “search tips” pages.


Are you finding too much information or perhaps not finding enough? Use alternative, narrower, or broader keywords to vary your results.

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Boolean Searching Visualized






Truncation Examples

The “*” replaces any number of characters and will find all forms of a word root.

  • child* LOCATES child, children, childhood
  • therap* LOCATES therapy, therapies, therapist, therapists, therapeutic, therapeutically


Note: symbols used may differ based on the tool used.  Consult the help documentation.

Wildcard "#" replaces any extra characters that may appear in alternative spellings.

  • colo#r LOCATES color, colour


Wildcard "?” replaces one character

  • ne?t LOCATES neat, nest, or next, but will not find net
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