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Boolean Search

And / Or / Not

This is an algebraic concept, but don't let that scare you away. Boolean connectors are all about sets. There are three little words that are used as Boolean connectors:

Think of each keyword as having a "set" of results that are connected with it. These sets can be combined to produce a different "set" of results. You can also exclude certain "sets" from your results by using a Boolean connector.

AND is a connector that requires both words to be present in each record in the results. Use AND to narrow your search.

Search Term Hits
Television 999 hits
Violence 876 hits
Television and violence 123 hits

The words 'television' and 'violence' will both be present in each record.


OR is a connector that allows either word to be present in each record in the results. Use OR to expand your search.

Search Term Hits
Adolescents 97 hits
Teenagers 75 hits
Adolescents or teenagers 172 hits

Either 'adolescents' or 'teenagers' (or both) will be present in each record.


NOT is a connector that requires the first word be present in each record in the results, but only if the record does not contain the second word.

Search Term Hits
High school 423 hits
Elementary 652 hits
High school not Elementary 275 hits

Each record contains the words 'high school', but not the word 'elementary'.

Please note, your computer will require the Flash 5 plug-in for the interactive example below to work. If you don't have the Flash plug-in you can download it for free from (link will open in a pop-up window): Macromedia.

Boolean Search Examples

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A (link will open in a pop-up window) text description of "Boolean Search Examples" is also available.

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