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UW Libraries Search: Phrase, Boolean, and Wildcard Searching

Phrase, Boolean, and Wildcard Searching

Here are a few tips you can use when searching in UW Libraries Search.

Phrase Searching

To search for an exact phrase (where the words are in a specific order), type quotation marks around your search phrase. If you do not include quotation marks, you will get results with items that contain the individual words in the phrase, but they may not necessarily be located together or in the order you want. 


"Dogs and Therapy" in search bar


Boolean Searching

To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in UW Libraries Search, you must enter them in uppercase letters. If you do not enter any Boolean operators, UW Libraries Search will search for all of your keywords as if they were connected with AND. For example, "apples AND oranges" returns results that meet both criteria. 

screenshot of boolean AND


Use OR if you are searching for items that contain at least one of the words or phrases you have entered into the search box. You will see results that have either word in them, but not necessarily both words.


screenshot of boolean OR


Use NOT if you would like to exclude a certain word or phrase from your results.


screenshot of Boolean not


Wildcard Searching

You can use wildcard characters in UW Libraries Search to find variations on your search terms. There are single and multiple character wildcards: 


Single character: 

"wom?n" in search bar

Use a question mark (?) for a single character wildcard search. For example, if you used the search term "wom?n", you will find records that contain the words "woman" and "women." 

Multiple character: 

Japan* in search bar

Use an asterisk (*) for a multiple character wildcard search. For example, if you used the search term "Japan*," you will find records that contain the words "Japan," "Japanese," and so on. 

Note: A wildcard cannot be used at the beginning of a search term. The system will ignore the wildcard if you do so.

No Keyword:

You can also use the $$ wildcard as a placeholder for no keyword if you'd like to browse materials of a particular type. To do this, go to Advanced Search and select a specific material type. This will give you a lot of search results, but you can refine your results by using the filter option on the side. For example, you could browse all the streaming video that are in a particular language.

No keyword wildcard