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Home » A Primer on Databases and Catalogs » Proximity Operators

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Proximity Operators

Defining the proximity of your seach words

(noun) The quality or state of being proximate: Closeness.
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary

Proximity operators allow you to locate one word within a certain distance of another. The symbols generally used in this type of search are w and n.

The w represents the word "with(in)" and the n represents the word "near." This type of search is not available in all databases.

Near Operator (Nx) — finds words within x number of words from each other, regardless of the order in which they occur.

Example: television n2 violence would find "television violence" or "violence on television," but not "television may be the culprit in recent high school violence."

Within Operator (Wx) — finds words within x number of words from each other, in the order they are entered in the search.

Example: Franklin w2 Roosevelt would find Franklin Roosevelt or Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Franklin D. Roosevelt, but would not find Roosevelt Franklin.

Phrase search — enclosing a phrase in quotation marks will help ensure that the database searches for those words as a group. The database then searches for those word together in the specific order you provided.

Check the database help screens to see if proximity searching is available and if so, what format to use when entering a proximity search.

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