Databases have some special tools to help you search them, and these tools make your searching a lot faster and easier if you know how to use them!
A lot of Internet search engines use these tricks too, try them out next chance you get and you may be surprised! The most commonly used and powerful tools are the separators: AND, OR, NOT, ( ), ” ”
You use these tools by typing them in along with your search. They are called “Separator Terms”. Read up on how to use them below:
Using these with your search terms you can get more or fewer results, or help focus in on more specific information. Check the examples below for usage:
AND: AND Separators looks for results with both or all of the search results. Using AND will get you fewer, but more specific results at the end of your search.
Example Search: Global AND Warming
Example Results: Will only return articles that use both of the words Global and Warming
OR: OR Separators will look for either search term independently. OR will return more results, and is best used for synonymous terms.
Example Search: Obama OR President
Example Results: Will return articles that include either word. (Or both of them)
NOT: As you might expect, the NOT separator screens out results bearing a particular term. This will result in fewer, but more accurate results.
Example Search: Apple NOT Iphone
Example Results: This search would return articles that contain the word Apple, but not the word Iphone. Helpful for those seeking information on their computers, rather than the phone.
” “: Quotation marks are an excellent tool. They allow you to group terms similar to the AND term, but also to preserve the order and closeness of the word. This will get you fewer, but far more accurate results.
Example Search: “Climate Change”
Example Results: This will result in articles that not only have both words but also use them in this phrase, where a search on Climate AND Change would also return articles that mentioned both words even if they weren’t right next to each other.
( ): Perhaps the most advanced of the separators, parentheses allow you to control the way in which the separators take effect. Separators normally are handled in order from left to right, but those used within parentheses will affect only terms also within them.
Example Search: (Gardening OR Planting) AND Summer
Example Results: This will find any article that contains the words Summer AND planting, or Summer and Gardening. Without the parentheses, the computer would interpret that differently, and would instead return either articles including the word Gardening by itself and also articles that included both the words Planting AND Summer.
Second Example: Biking NOT (motorcycle OR stationary)
Example Results: This search would look for any articles that discussed biking, but not those that included the words motorcycle or stationary. Without the parentheses, this search would return all articles that were about biking but not motorcycles, as well as any articles about stationary.