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Math Research Guide

Advanced Search Tips

Adding AND to your search will narrow the results. Many databases automatically add an "AND" between words.
  • A search for cats AND dogs will return items that contain both "cats" and "dogs"

Venn diagram Cats & Dogs highlighting AND

Adding OR  to your search expands your search. This is great to use for synonyms.
  • cats OR dogs returns items that contain either "cats" or "dogs:"

Venn diagram Cats OR Dogs highlighting everything

Adding NOT excludes items from your search
  • cats NOT dogs returns items that contain "cats" but not "dogs:"

Venn diagram Cats NOT Dogs highlighting only cats

Try using quotation marks when researching phrasal concepts (e.g., "European Union") or conducting known-item searches for titles:

  • For example, Donut Day will search for items with the words Donut AND Day

However, "Donut Day" in quotation marks will search for the documentary with the same name.

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is helpful to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

For example, (memory OR nostalgia) AND Japan will return results for Japan and any one (or both) of the parenthetical terms.  

(Many catalogs or databases will have an "advanced search" option, which provides multiple search bars to facilitate nested searching.)

Most catalogs and databases enable  variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.

For example, you could search for politic* to find poltic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searching works similarly: a search for t??th will return results for teeth, tooth, tenth, and so on.

Ctrl F 

Opens a search box so that you can find particular words or phrases on a page. Very helpful for long PDFs.