Using Boolean Operators for Better Search Results
Boolean terms were originally developed for mathematics and logic problems, but they also very helpful when searching the library catalog or databases. There are three commonly used terms:
- Use "AND" between search terms to indicate that all of the search terms must be present in an article for it to show up in your results. Using AND is a great way to get more specific results. For example, searching for "Madonna AND church" means that articles must contain the word "madonna" and the word "church" to show up in your results.
- For example, if the circle on the left represents articles containing the word "Madonna", and the circle on the right includes articles containing the word "church", the shaded area shows the results for a search for "Madonna AND church"
- Use "OR" between search terms to indicate any article that includes either or both of the terms should be included in the results. You can use OR between synonyms or related terms to ensure that you find articles that use any of them.
- For example, a search for "Madonna OR church" would bring up
- articles that mention the word "madonna" but do not include the word "church"
- any articles that include the word "church" but do not include the word "madonna"
- articles that include both the word "madonna" and the word "church"
- Use "NOT" to exclude articles that refer to a different meaning of a term than the one you need.
- For example, if your results include articles on the Virgin Mary or churches named for her, when you are actually looking for articles on the singer Madonna, search for "Madonna NOT church" to exclude them. (Be careful, you will also exclude any articles dealing with the relationship between the singer and the church.)