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Information Literacy Research Skill Building: Help Searching: Combining AND OR Commands Podcast

This guide contains information literacy instructional materials based on the ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

Help Searching: Combining AND OR commands podcast

In earlier podcasts we talked about how to use the search commands AND, OR, as well as the * to make your searching easier and more productive.

You can use those search commands together to focus a search in such a way that you can get exactly what you want the first try. Here is how.

Lets say you are interested in the impacts of the recent earthquakes in Indonesia.

First think about the words your authors might use:

Earthquakes might also be called quakes --- or the author may use the singular for these events - earthquake, quake.

Now think about the geographic locality.

Your author might talk about Indonesia, or the island of Sumatra, or the city of Jakarta.

You want to get as close to your topic as you can. So you will combine them with AND, OR, as well as the asterisk to tell the computer exactly what you want.
If your database gives you several boxes for your search, then input your search like this...

Type in the first search box -- Earthquake* OR quake*.

Remember the * is not separated from the string of letters you want the computer to locate.

The computer will look for the following words: earthquake (singular), earthquakes (plural), quake (singular), quakes (plural), and locate any article that contains one of these words.

Connect the first search box to the second with the word AND by selecting it from the list of choices; you usually see AND OR NOT In the second search box type Indonesia OR Sumatra

In a database that gives you several boxes to type your search screenshot of ProQuest advanced search

You will get the following kinds of articles, and books.

Sumatra experiences a series of earthquakes

A moderate quake rocks Sumatra

Earthquake activity in Indonesia is increasing

But sometimes you are faced with only one search box. How do you put in this complex search?

You will put parentheses around all the or’ d words. The words that describe one of your search concepts. The parentheses tell the computer that these words are synonyms for this search.

Your earthquake will become Parens earthquake* OR quake* parens

Indonesia will become parens Indonesia parens

Both of these groups of words in parentheses will be linked with an AND.

Now, close your eyes and visualize the final search.

Parens earthquake* OR quake* parens AND parens Indonesia parens

If you find this difficult to see in your minds eye, we have a printed version of this search that you can look at.

In a database that gives you one box to type your search in
screenshot of ERL WebSPIRS search

Next time you are doing a search in the catalog or the library indexes, use your ANDs, ORs, and asterisks to focus your search. See how much time it saves you.

Good Searching

AND OR * --The Podcast Examples

Using * OR

tidal waves OR tsunamis

volcano OR volcanos OR Volcanic OR volcanism


Using AND

Clownfish AND anemones

Clownfish AND anemones AND Parasites

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