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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Database Quick Guides

Basic information on writing search queries in library databases. Intended audience: advanced searchers, or searchers interested in learning more about advanced searching options.

The Basics

Truncation

Truncation (autostemming) is the default.

child retrieves child, children, childbirth, childbearing, childish.

Truncation (With autostemming turned off)

Dollar sign before the word to be truncated: $

Asterisk after the word to be truncated: *

$child retrieves child, children, childbirth, childbearing, childish.

child* retrieves child, children, childbirth, childbearing, childish.

Left anchored truncation Asterisk: * *sorption retrieves adsorption, absorption, desorption, resorption
Wildcard (single character) Question mark: ?

wom?n retrieves woman, women, womyn

t??th retrieves truth, tooth, teeth, tenth.

Wildcard (multiple characters) Asterisk: *

colo*r retrieves color, colour, colonizercolorimeter.

Phrases

Put phrases in quotation marks or curly brackets

Default: AND operators between multiple words.

"north pole" retrieves documents in which the words north and pole appear next to each other, in that exact order.

{north pole} retrieves documents in which the words north and pole appear next to each other, in that exact order.

north pole (without quotation marks) retrieves documents that contain both words north and pole, regardless of where the words appear in the document.

Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT

lincoln AND douglas retrieves only documents that contain both lincoln and douglas.

lincoln OR douglas retrieves documents that contain either lincoln or douglas.

Proximity operators

ONEARn terms must appear within n words in the specified order.

NEARn terms must appear within n words of one another, in any order.

henry ONEAR1 thoreau retrieves documents that contain the phrases henry david thoreau or henry thoreau.

race NEAR3 riot retrieves documents that contain the phrases race riot; race and riot in wartime LA; race, gender and riot; riot of 1921: race, reparations, and reconciliation; but also riot and the arms race