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ENG 112: English Composition: Advanced Search Tips

Boolean Operators

   Boolean operators work in all databases. You either enter manually or the database supplies them for you  Use AND, OR and NOT to combine terms to be searched over one or more fields.

  • AND -- both search terms must appear in the record 
    Ex: computers AND cars
  • OR -- either term must appear in the record 
    Ex: cars OR automobiles
  • NOT -- no records containing second term will be retrieved
    Ex: cars NOT trucks
  • NESTING-using parenthesis to nest off similar terms (ie.,synonyms))


Here’s an example of a search statement created using Boolean operators:
(cars or automobiles) and manufacturing and computers not trucks

Can't find the Full-text?

Using the NMC Journal List:

  • Not all items indexed in the databases are available full-text. When an article you need is not available in full-text, don’t despair! It may be available in another database or in the NMC print journal collection. 
  • Check the Osterlin Library Journal List:
  • Or, when searching a database and the article is not available, click the “Search for Article” icon or link (depends on database, see example). This takes you to the Osterlin Library Journal List, which tells if the item is available in another database. If available, follow the links to the item.  
  • If you search the Osterlin Library Journal List and the item is not available through NMC collection, it can be obtained through Interlibrary Loan within 7-14 days.


When you want to get at all the possible variations of a word in a database, you need to use a technique called truncation. Truncation means to cut off or shorten. By cutting a word to its base and adding a truncation symbol, you tell the database to find the word in all its variations. Use truncation when you want to be as comprehensive as possible in your search. Different databases use different symbols.

Article Databases:
Truncate your search term in most databases by putting * (asterisk) at the end of a root word.

iLink the Library Catalog:
Truncate your search term by putting a $ at the end of a root word.

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks work in most databases. Databases do not recognize common phrases. If you search with a phrase, like art therapy, put quotation marks around it. 

Quotation marks force the database to search for the phrase as a whole, not just the words here and there. The databases search for exactly what is in quotation marks, so be sure to check your spelling.

Ex. "art therapy" "asian carp" "type 2 diabetes"