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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 Asterisk: *

child* retrieves documents with child, children, childbirth, childbearing, childish, and so forth.


Use quotation marks around words to search for them as a phrase.

Default: AND operators between multiple words.

"james earl ray" retrieves only documents with the exact phrase james earl ray.

james earl ray (without quotation marks) retrieves documents with the words james and earl and ray anywhwere in the document, in any order.

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

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

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

henry FBY.2 thoreau retrieves documents that contain henry david thoreau or henry thoreau.

henry NEAR.2 thoreau retrieves documents that contain henry thoreau, henry david thoreau, or thoreau, henry david.