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COM 597: Communicating Ideas: Strategies and theories of community and network - Fall 2017 (Yasin): Search Tips

Search Tips for Searching Library Databases

Boolean Operators (Connectors)



  • Finds sources containing two or more ideas.
  • The database will only retrieve items containing both words.
  • AND narrows your search.
  • You can use AND many times in one search.
  • Example: adolescents AND communication



  • Use OR when searching for synonyms.
  • OR broadens your search to include synonyms and related words.
  • OR tells the database that the words can be used interchangeably, so it will retrieve items containing either word.
  • You can use OR many times in one search.
  • Example: adolescents OR teenagers

AND and OR

Make a complex search using both AND and OR by using parentheses around OR synonyms.

  • Example: (adolescen* OR teen* OR youth) AND communicat*
  • Example: girl* AND advertising AND esteem



  • Common symbol used to replace any number of letters at the ends of words.
  • Helps find singulars, plurals, and variant endings of words.
  • Differs from database to database. Check the online help to identify the truncation symbol used.
  • Example: teen* finds teen, teens, teenagers


  • Databases that use * include the UW Libraries Catalog, EBSCO databases, and ProQuest databases.
  • Lexis Nexis uses !

limits vary

Most databases let you limit search results. Some limits include language, date of publication, publication type, etc.




  • Enclose phrases in quotation marks when searching the Web or most databases.
  • Phrase searching in databases varies. Check the online help for additional information.
  • Example: "social networks"
  • Example: "mass media"
  • Example: "interpersonal communication"


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