This is the "Combining Search Terms" page of the "Tips for Searching (Boolean Search Guide)" guide.
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Tips for Searching (Boolean Search Guide)  

Learn how to develop effective search phrases.
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Combining Search Terms Print Page

Introduction - Using AND, OR, NOT

Boolean searching is a way to combine the concepts in your topic so that you can search a journal database or other electronic resource.

You can combine your concepts in three ways. Each will result in a different set of search results:

AND: concept one AND concept two (inclusive)

OR: concept one OR concept two (inclusive)

NOT: concept one NOT concept two (exclusive)

These three words - AND, OR, NOT are called Boolean operators.


If your topic is teenage suicide your first step should be to break it down into its concepts:

Concept One: teenage

Concept Two: suicide

Since you want to find articles that contain both concepts you would use the AND operator.

teenage and suicide

If you were looking for information about teenagers or suicide, but not necessarily both, you would use OR.

teenagers or suicide

If you were looking for articles about teenagers, but not about suicide you would use NOT.

teenager not suicide

Your results would only have the word teenager in them. Any articles that had the word suicide in them would have been excluded from the results.

Use NOT sparingly.It is an exclusive operator and will eliminate articles from your search even if the word only appears once.


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