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Library Information Guide - Fort Wayne

Searching with Accuracy

Using keywords incorrectly can cause you to find materials that are irrelevant to your topic. The techniques below will get you results that are right on target!

Boolean Terms

Use the Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to specify how you want your search terms to be used. The outcome of searches using AND, OR, and NOT to connect keywords is illustrated in the table below.

The overlapping circles represent the keywords in the search and the shaded area illustrates the results of a search where those keywords are connected by a Boolean operator. These diagrams graphically show how using AND narrows a search, OR broadens a search, and NOT excludes material from a search.

Operator Search Terms This Search Will Find... Results Shaded
AND Thailand AND history

Items containing both "Thailand" and "history."

AND narrows a search, resulting in fewer hits.

Venn Diagram AND
OR teenagers OR teens

Items containing either "teenagers" or "teens" or both.

OR broadens a search, resulting in more hits.

Venn Diagram: OR
NOT Mexico NOT "New Mexico" Items containing "Mexico" but not "New Mexico." Venn diagram: NOT


Please note:

Not every database allows you to use all of these operators, or the same version of the operator. To find out which operators are accepted by the database you’re using, see the “Help” section provided by that database.


If you type the first part of a keyword (including the word root) and insert a wildcard symbol (usually *, but is sometimes ?, $, or !) in place of the word ending, then your search will produce all the words that begin that way but have various endings.

If you search for: You will find results that contain:
femini* feminine, feminism, feminist...
athlet* athlete, athletes, athletic...
immigra* immigration, immigrant, immigrants...



If your search term consists of two or more words that only make sense if they are together in the exact same word order, then you are searching for a phrase. Put quotation marks around the phrase to search for those words only when they are listed together in the same order you typed them in.

If you search for: You will find results that contain:
"eating disorders"

the phrase “eating disorders,” but not results that contain the word “eating” in one place, and the word “disorders” in another

"United States"

the phrase “United States,” but not results that have the word “United” in one place and “States” in another



If you have a more complicated search, you can combine the above methods with parentheses.

If you search for: You will find results that contain:
Indianapolis AND (baseball or football) results that mention Indianapolis and either sport
television AND (children OR youth OR teen*) results related to television and young people
(Vietnam OR Vietnamese) NOT war results about Vietnam but not the war