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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)

Videos

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