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University of Arizona Library

Boolean logic 101

Boolean Logic - uses search "operators" AND, OR, NOT (or AND NOT) to broaden or narrow searches. NOT should be used sparingly.

Synonyms - words with same or overlapping meaning. Use OR to combine synonyms.

Example: (russia OR soviet union OR ussr) AND (poetry or verse)

Nesting - uses parentheses around search terms to tell the database to search for those terms before searching for others or for combining nested searches. Nesting is primarily used when combining synonyms with the OR operator.

Phrase Searching - retrieves records/documents where one or more words appear in a particular order. Quotation marks are generally used for phrase searching. Many databases default to phrase searching, though others default to AND searching, so it is best to use quotation marks to make it explicit.

Example: new economic policy [NEP] might be searched as a phrase in one database - "new economic policy" - but searched as - new AND economic AND policy - in another.

 Prepositions and Articles - generally do not use these in your search strategies. (e.g. civil war AND film - is preferable to - civil war in film ). If you need to use articles or prepositions, put your phrase in quotation marks (e.g. "and quiet flows the don").

 Truncation - use a truncation symbol when you want to find words with the same prefix or root, or for both singular and plural forms of a word. The symbol used for truncation may differ from one catalog/database to another. It is usually * or ? - check in the "Search Help" section to be sure.

Example: russia* would return russia, russias, russian, russians, etc.

Wildcard - symbol used to substitute in for one or more characters in a word. Often the same symbol is used for truncation.

Example: dosto*vsky would return dostoevsky and dostoyevsky (adding an asterisk at the end - dosto*vsk* - would return the variants ending in ii , ij , etc).

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Printable PDF w/transliteration "cheat sheet"

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