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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

WorldCat: Advanced Search

A guide to using the WorldCat database.

Advanced Search

Image showing WorldCat's Advanced Search box.WorldCat defaults to an advanced search. Use one or more lines to search by term. Select an index field from the drop-down menu, such as keyword, author, title, publisher, language, and more. Use Boolean operators, proximity operators, and truncation//wildcards to narrow your initial search. Under "Search Tools," you can select more features to narrow your search by, such as date range and content type. "Databases" automatically selects searching just the WorldCat catalog, however you can also select to search "WorldCat.org."

Search Tips

  • Choose specific terms that are closely related to your research topic, including terms you might use when discussing your topic with a colleague such as jargon, synonyms, and abbreviations.
  • WorldCat searches are not case sensitive. 
  • WorldCat automatically finds variant spellings and forms of words. 
  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase (e.g. "Song of Solomon") 
  • Use Boolean operators to limit, broaden, or eliminate terms from your search:
    • AND limits search results, finding articles with both terms 
    • OR broadens results, finding articles with either term 
    • NOT eliminates terms from the results, finding articles with one term but not the other 
  • Use truncation and wildcards to broaden your search:
    • An asterisk (*) replaces multiple characters in a term, finding variant spellings and suffixes (e.g. biolog* for biology, biologist, etc.)
    • A pound symbol (#) replaces a single character in a term, finding variant spellings (e.g. colo#r for color and colour)
    • A question mark (?) replaces 0-9 characters in a term, finding variant spellings (e.g. sm?th for smith, smyth, smallmouth, etc.)
  • Use proximity operators to make a search more specific:
    • N# denotes how far apart you want your search terms to appear (e.g. nursing N# eduction for the two terms to show up within 3 terms of each other in the search results
    • W# denotes how far apart you want one search term to appear before a second term (e.g. nursing W3 education for the term nursing to appear 3 terms before education)