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Library Search Help: Search Tools

How to use Library Search

Search Tools

OR, AND, and NOT

OR, AND, and NOT are tools you can use to combine different keywords and concepts to create a more detailed search.

They must be used as ALL CAPS. 

OR connects terms with the same or similar meanings.  This increases search results. 

For example: teen OR teenager OR adolescent OR young adult 

Searching this combination means that every result will contain at least one of those terms (but does not have to contain all of them - any will do).

AND focuses and narrows search results - it connects concepts together. For example, when searching for resources about immigration laws in California, you could search:

immigration AND law AND California

Searching this combination means that every result must contain all three words.

NOT removes terms from search results.  For example: when searching for resources on cloning but not of sheep:

cloning NOT sheep

Searching this combination means that every result will have "cloning" but none will contain "sheep."


Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks around a pair (or group) or words to search it as a phrase. Without the quotes the words will be treated like an AND search. For example:

first generation college student    searches for    any result that has all four of those words, not necessarily in that order

"first generation college student"    searches for    any result that has all four of those words in that exact order


Truncation is a great way to search for similar words at the same time. When you want to search for words that begin with the same series of letters, where any ending would be relevant to what you’re looking for, use the asterisk (*), which is the truncation symbol or wildcard character.  For example:

               immigra*    searches for    immigration, immigrant, immigrants, and immigrating

The asterisk can be used only at the end of a word. Be careful about words that begin with the same string of letters but are not related to your topic.  For example:

               polic*    searches for   policy and policies   but also   police and policing

Instead, use only the terms you’d like Library Search to look for, such as

               Policy OR policies

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