UA Library Search Guide

Research tools and resources explained

Using Boolean Operators


Use AND to narrow your search by combining your terms so that each search result contains all of the terms. For example, management AND leadership will retrieve results with both terms.


Use OR to broaden your search by combining search terms so that each result contains at least one of the terms. For example: “human resource management” OR "human resources"  OR "HR management" finds results that contain any of these terms.


You can use NOT to exclude any terms so that each result does not include that term. For example, “human resource management” NOT "HR management"  finds results that contains the term "human resource management" but not the term "HR management". 

More Search Tips

Searching for a phrase: Using phrases instead of singe word search terms will help reduce the number of results. You can search for a phrase by combining single search terms in quotation marks " ".

For example: "human resource management"

Using Wildcards: 
Use wildcard symbols to create a search where there are unknown characters, multiple spellings or various endings. 

  • Use the ? wildcard to match one letter. When you enter your search terms, replace each unknown letter with a ?.

For example: use organi?ation to find records containing organisation or organization.

  • Use the # wildcard to find a term with an alternate spelling containing an extra character. 

For example: use labo#r to find all records containing labor or labour. 

NB - This technique will not be recognized if used inside inverted commas " " 

Using Truncation: Use Truncation when there are multiple spellings and various endings of search terms. 

  • Enter the root of a search term and use an to replace the ending.  Using the * will retrieve all forms of that word.

For example: use manag* to find the words manage, manager, management, managing, etc.

One of the biggest challenges in searching for information is finding a manageable number of relevant results. Using Boolean operators between your search terms using parentheses (called nesting) can help you achieve this, and is essential for constructing an effective search strategy. There are various ways to design effective searches using Boolean operators. The following are just two examples of searches using "nested" Boolean phrases and symbols:

This retrieved too many irrelevant results as "Alberta" as a keyword can be problematic. Modifying the search with the same terms, but moving the term "Alberta" to the next line and searching it as a Subject Term will narrow the results to make them more relevant as shown here:

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