How to combine search terms

It won't work if you enter search terms randomly. If you want to find specific information about your subject, you must combine search terms.

You can do this in four ways:

  1. with Boolean operators
  2. with truncation marks
  3. with an exact word combination
  4. by choosing search fields

Boolean operators

You can search with AND, OR or NOT




social AND media
both words must occur in the search results




social OR media
the results must at least contain one of the two words




social NOT media
only social may occur in the search results

Combine search terms

If you combine several Boolean operators, use brackets. The search terms between brackets get priority and the search remains organised.

Brackets indicate which words belong together; often these are words that have similar meaning or are strongly related, for example synonyms, singular/plural.

An example: (campsites OR hotels) AND Andorra.

Truncation marks

With truncation you search different word variations in one go. This can be at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a word.
For truncation, the * (asterisk) or the ? (question mark) is quite commonly used.

lead* leader, leadership, leading (but also lead as a metal!)
Jan*en Jansen, Janssen, Janszen

Exact word combination

By putting multiple search terms in double quotes, you ensure that a search engine only displays results with that exact sequence of words.

For example: "how do you recognize fake news" or "domestic violence".

Choose search fields

In search engines such as Kaluga or Google you can opt for Advanced search. Before starting your search, choose in which fields to search.

Examples are title, author, keywords, summary, ISBN, and so on.

Last updated on 18 November 2020.