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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 child, children, childbirth, childbearing, childish.


Put phrases in quotation marks.

Default: AND operators between multiple 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, 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.