Skip to Main Content

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




Wildcard (single character) None  

Put phrases in quotation marks.

Default: AND operators between words.

"james earl ray" retrieves documents in which the words james and earl and ray appear next to each other, in that exact order.

james earl ray (without quotation marks) retrieves documents that contain all 3 words, james and earl and ray, regardless of where the words appear in the document, or in what order.

Boolean operators AND

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 None. Claims to use something called "implicit proximity" searching, which seems to be sets intersection with relevance ranking.