Boolean operators refer to use of the words AND, OR, NOT in searching. We use these words to connect our search terms in order to narrow or broaden search results.
In many library databases, you'll select Boolean operators from a dropdown menu to link together different lines. In search tools like Google Scholar, or in advanced search options in most databases, you can use Boolean operators written out
|Boolean Operator||Example||What it does|
|AND||bilingual education AND language policy||Narrows your search|
|OR||teens OR adolescents OR "young adults"||Broadens your search|
|NOT||heritage language immersion NOT "dual language immersion"||Weeds out unhelpful stuff|
|"" (Quotation marks)||"second language acquisition"||Searches an exact phrase, those words in that order|
(will include possibilities like communication, communicators, communicating, etc)
|Includes all possible word ending variations|
Shown in the table above, truncation, also known as stemming, uses the root word followed by an asterisk * to allow for different stems or endings of that word. Most databases use * as the truncation symbol.
When using the truncation symbol, be mindful of where you end your word and use the * symbol so that you hone in on relevant results. (example: comput* for computer, computers, computing, not comp*)
You can also use the truncation symbol in the middle of a word, i.e. hea*one will return results for headphone, headstone
Or use it between words, i.e. state * standards will return results for state science standards, state math standards
A wildcard symbol, similar to the truncation asterisk *, is used to replace letters in keywords that have multiple possibilities. Wildcards generally cannot be used as the first character in a search term.
Use with caution!
|Symbol||Example||What it does|
(will include color and colour)
|Includes alternate spellings of words. Acts as a replacement for one character.|
|?||Acts as a replacement for one character.|