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Creating a Search Query

Phrases | logical operators | truncation | wild cards | nesting

Most databases don't understand the natural language we speak and need help understanding what we're looking for. For this, they require a special set of conventions, including:

Quotation marks Around exact phrases (e.g. "Humboldt State University ")
Logical or Boolean operators Connecting words that narrow or broaden a search to include only what you need. Examples: OR, AND, NOT
Wildcards and truncation symbols
(* # ? !)
For terms that have variant forms of spelling or different possible endings. Examples: child* for child, children, childhood, childish, etc.
Nesting Placing terms in parentheses to indicate separate units. (Like an equation, (A or B) not C

Databases and search engines apply these rules differently, so check HELP files to find out how to use them.

Click on the links below for a demonstration of each strategy. Select either an animated movie or a static image. For text only version, use image.

Function   Search Strategy
Narrowing   AND movie | image
  NOT movie | image
Broadening   OR movie | image
  Wildcard movie | image
Combining   Nesting movie | image


Check this demonstration of searching in Academic Search Elite. (Off-campus access for current HSU faculty, students, & staff only.)

Begin the exercise
(this will open a new browser window)