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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


Asterisk: *

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

Wildcard (single character)

Question mark: ?

wom?n would find "woman" and "women".

Put phrases in quotation marks.

Default: If no search operators are detected, then Nexis Uni defautls to natural language searching (proprietary, undefined algorithm).

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

Boolean operators AND

lincoln AND douglas retrieves only records that contain both "lincoln" and "douglas".

lincoln OR douglas retrieves records that contain either "lincoln" or "douglas".

Proximity operators

W/S terms must appear in same sentence (technically: within approximately 25 words of one another).

W/P terms must be in same paragraph (technically: within approximately 75 words of one another).

W/n terms must appear within n words of one another in any order;

Pre/n terms must appear within n words in the specified order.

henry W/2 thoreau retrieves "henry thoreau", "henry david thoreau", and "thoreau, henry david".

henry Pre/2 thoreau retrieves only "henry thoreau" and "henry david thoreau".