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Advanced Search Tips: AND, OR, NOT

Tips for narrowing your searches in academic databases and search engines.

Boolean Searching (AND, OR, NOT)

Boolean logic allows you to string together search keywords using AND, OR. or NOT in all caps. You can add these words in all caps between your keywords to include/exclude words. You can combine multiple search operators (i.e. using AND and OR in search, AND and NOT, etc.) for a more precise search (ex. education AND race NOT ethnicity searches for sources than mention race and education, but exclude ethnicity).

Search Two Keywords Together Using AND

You can narrow your search by searching for two keywords that are mentioned in the same source (ex. 'race AND education').

Try this library search for race - it yields over 3.2 million results! Adding another keyword, such as race AND education narrows down the results to 147,000 results. Use the other search strategies in this guide to narrow down your results even further.




Search For Either Term Using OR

You can broaden your search by adding related words or synonyms (ex. race OR ethnicity) if your initial search didn't yield enough results. Using OR allows you to search for synonyms and/or related words. IN some cases, an OR search can help search for variations of foreign words transliterated into English (ex. Hannukah vs Chanukah).


  • marijuana decriminalization OR marijuana legalization
  • nationality OR citizenship
  • tidal wave OR tsunami
  • global warming OR climate change
  • Koran or Quran

Exclude a Keyword Using NOT

You can narrow your search by searching for items that mention one term but not the other. (ex. searching 'race NOT ethnicity' yields sources that just discuss race, not ethnicity). Let's say you are looking for articles that discuss race in education but not ethnicity, you could search education AND race NOT ethnicity.


  • marsupials NOT kangaroos
  • holidays NOT Christmas
  • oceans NOT atlantic ocean