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Information Literacy: Boolean Operators

A guide to finding better resources, avoiding plagiarism, and writing better papers.

Boolean Operators

Boolean Logic consists of three main logical operators or connectors: AND, OR, and NOT

Boolean Operator AND

  • Finds sources containing two or more ideas
  • The database will only retrieve items containing both words/terms
  • AND narrows your search
  • You can use AND many times in one search
  • Example: books AND censorship
  • Example: Jesus AND miracles

Boolean Operator OR

  • Use OR when searching for synonyms
  • OR tells the database that the words can be used interchangeably, so it will retrieve items containing either word
  • Or broadens your search to include synonyms anmd related words or even unrelated words
  • You can use OR many times in one search
  • Example: books OR films
  • Example: Jesus OR Messiah

Boolean Operator NOT

  • Use NOT when you wish to exclude records from your search results
  • Be careful when using NOT. The term you want may be present in an important way in results that also contain the word you wish to avoid.
  • Example: books NOT politics
  • Example: trump NOT president [if you are researching the idea of one idea outweighing (or "trumping") another idea, but do not wish to receive results about President Donald Trump]

Combining Operators

  • Make complex searches using more than one Boolean operator at a time
  • Make complex search terms by putting parentheses around synonyms
  • The NOT operator has to go at the end of your search string
  • Example: (electronic OR internet OR web) AND (vote OR voting)
  • Example: (Jesus OR Messiah OR Christ) AND (miracles OR supernatural OR healing)


Most of this information was created by the librarians at East Texas Baptist University. Check out their LibGuides here.