LSU Libraries User Instruction
Searching Techniques and Strategies Tutorial

Boolean Searching

The results of a simple keyword search can be overwhelming. In a keyword search, the computer will look at all the records in the catalog and bring back all the ones that contain the word or phrase that you specify anywhere in the record. This is very important! If you type in the word "guns," you are not only going to get information on hand guns, but information about electron guns, a book titled Guns or Butter about Lyndon Johnson, books by Walter Guns, and any other item that has the word "guns" somewhere in its record. Your results list can be very long.

It's for just that reason that we have what are called Boolean Operators, special words that have specific meanings within the context of a search and allow you to link terms together to make your searches more specific. The Boolean terms are one of the most basic tools you can use to make your searching more quick and effective-and to save you the time and effort of wading through a long list of sources to find the ones you can use.

The three most common operators are AND, OR, and NOT. XOR is another operator you find available when using some databases, including the LSU Libraries Online Catalog. Each operator does something slightly different.

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