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MC 3383: Editing for Clear Communication - Clark: Search Strategies

This guide is for Beth Clark's MC 3383 class.

Boolean Operators in Action: AND

AND will make your search MORE SPECIFIC.

Search results will include all of the keywords you link together by the word AND.

Beyonce AND lemonade = information related to Beyonce's Lemonade

Boolean Operators in Action: OR

OR is MORE.

OR will make your search broader. 

Search results will include any of the keywords you link together by the word OR. Sometimes search results will include only 1 of the keywords, sometimes both. This OR That, you aren't being picky.

Beyonce OR lemonade = the Lemonade album, Minute Maid lemonade, lemonade herbal extracts

In the Beyonce example OR is not terribly helpful. OR is great for synonyms, though.

teenager OR adolescent

Boolean Operators in Action: NOT

NOT will make your search more specific. 

Search results will exclude mention of the keyword after NOT.

Beyonce NOT lemonade = no mention of the Lemonade album

What other search strategies are there?

In addition to "phrase searching," Boolean operators, and truncation you can also use wildcard searches. 

Like truncation, wildcard searches will expand your results. The symbols below replace letter(s) that would make up a word. It's like a shorthand way of typing every possible word that fits the pattern with OR in between. Not only will this save you time, but it may give you alternative keywords you had not yet thought of.

Symbol What it does Sample search Instead of typing
* replaces zero or more letters at the end of a word
(this is truncation)
comput* computer OR computing OR computational OR...
# replaces at most one letter ne#t net OR neat OR next OR nest OR...
? replaces only one letter b?t bat OR bet OR bit OR bot OR but OR...

 

Some databases may use these differeny symbols entirely or the above symbols in a different way. Check the database's FAQ section to ensure proper use.

Phrase searching