Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

HIST1703 Introduction to History: Using Boolean Operations

What are Boolean Operations

Entering your keywords by themselves is less effective than combining them with Boolean Operators. 

Connectors (Boolean) – a way of connecting words and phrases to narrow or broaden your search.  Using AND between words will narrow a search, resulting in fewer hits. Using OR will broaden, resulting in more hits. NOT will exclude terms from a search.  


For now, take a look at these short videos that will show you how to limit or expand your search results.

How Boolean Operations Work

If you want to discover the best search results, use Boolean Operations. Stringing your search terms together with different connectors will result in better search results.

  • " " Quotation marks: Placing a search phrase in quotation marks allows you to search for that phrase rather than each individual word. The database/search engine will return hits that only include all the words within the quotation marks and in that specific order.

Give it a try! Go to your favorite search engine (GoogleYahoo!AskDogpile) and perform the following two searches:

Search terms: biographies on african americans  (without quotation marks)
                        "biographies on african americans" (with quotation marks)
Notice the difference in results. Without quotation marks returned 2,570,000 websites. With quotation marks returned 46 website.

  • AND, OR, and NOT: Use these words to connect search terms and search phrases. For more information, see the box entitled "Keys to Searching Success."

Keys to Searching Success

* Red, shaded portion represents which the search results are displayed




Both words must be present somewhere in the website/article

Results are more specific compared to a search using "or"


Either search term or both
 must be present somewhere in the website/article

Returns the GREATEST number of results



The first search term must be present and it must not inlcude the second term somewhere in the website/article.

Results are LIMITED

How to Search: Using "Quotation Marks"

How to Search: Using Connector Terms