Skip to Main Content

Start Your Research: Search Operators

Search Operators

The operators below are the 'language' of databases. They tell the database exactly what you are searching for. 

Search Operators

Search operators are the 'language' of databases. Using operators helps strengthen your search and retrieve better results. 
Operator Explanation Example
AND Use AND between keywords to search for resources that contain both search terms. Police AND Social Media
OR Use OR between synonyms or related words to search for resources that contain either term. Police OR Law Enforcement
NOT Use NOT to eliminate all articles that contain a certain word or phrase NOT Australia
" ... " Use quotation marks around a string of words to search as a phrase instead of individual words "social media"
* Add a star (*) to the end of a root word to search for the root word and all possible endings Canad* = Canada, Canadian, Canadiens 
(      ) Use parentheses to group operators. If you are on a database with an advanced search option, you can separate different keywords in different search boxes. If you're using a simple search, use parentheses to differentiate your operators. (Police OR "Law Enforcement") AND ("Social Media" OR Twitter) AND Canad* NOT Australia


Example of a search for 'Police' AND 'Social media'.

Narrows your search by searching for resources that contain both terms 

Example of a search for 'Police' OR 'Law Enforcement'

Expands your search by looking for resources that contain either search term. 

Example of search for 'Canada' NOT 'Australia'.

Narrows your search by eliminating all resources that contain a particular search term.