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Sussex Library Search Skills Guide

Boolean searching

Boolean Searching

You can combine multiple keywords or concepts together in your search, using search operators, known as "Boolean connectors" or "Boolean operators". They are: AND, OR, and NOT.

Using connectors can improve the relevancy of your results, as the search engine or database will search your keywords in a more specific and filtered way.

In many databases, if you don't use a connector between your search words the AND connector automatically applies to your search. 

For example, the keyword search: Brexit voting Wales would be interpreted as Brexit AND voting AND Wales.


How to search using boolean connectors

Use Boolean connector AND to focus your search
Using AND between search words will instruct to the database to find all of your search terms present in the search results, thereby narrowing and refining your search results.


Use Boolean connector OR to broaden your search
Using OR between your search words will connect two or more similar concepts together; the database will find at least one of your terms present in the results, thus broadening your search results.


Use Boolean connector NOT to eliminate keywords and phrases
Using NOT between search words will narrow your search, by eliminating specific keywords or phrases from your search.


Combining multiple Boolean connectors in one search