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Digital Media and Web Technology

A Library Subject Guide

Boolean Search Tips


  • Always capitalize Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) in your search statement.

  • AND
    This strategy will narrow your search. 
  • OR
    This strategy will broaden your search. Put words linked by OR inside parentheses ( ).
  • Quotation marks " "
    Using quotation marks will ensure that the database finds results that use that exact phrase.
  • Asterisk * 
    The * symbol tells the database to search for alternative word endings, for example: cultur* will search for culture, cultures, cultural

Keyword Searching

How do I choose keywords for my searches?

  • Words to include
    When you choose keywords for your search, you would want to include just the main ideas of your research question
  • Use quotation marks
    If the topic is longer than one word, you can optimize your search by putting quotation marks around it. Using quotation marks will ensure that the database finds results that use that exact phrase.  
  • Use AND
    To search for multiple concepts at the same time, you need to link your search terms with AND. This strategy will narrow your search. 
"social media" AND video

Found too many results?

  • Add more keywords

If you find that you are retrieving too many results, try adding more keywords to further narrow your topic.

"social media" AND video AND websites

Found too few results?

  • If you are searching for a really specific topic, you might not find enough information. In this case, you can try broadening your search by using fewer keywords, or by using OR to add synonyms for your current search terms. If you link synonyms with or, make sure to put them inside parentheses.  
"social media" AND video AND (websites OR "web pages")


Video Review on Keywords

Video Review on Searching

More Research Help

You can review your searching skills with our Database Searching Basics guide and this UMGC Library Webinar on Boolean Searching.