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Spark 001 (Contreras): Using Boolean, Truncation, & Quotes

Spark Seminar: The Border and Chicana/o Texts

Connecting Your Search Terms with Boolean Operators (AND & OR)

Use OR to broaden your search.

For example, if you search advertising OR commercials, you will find articles that include either term.

Boolean - OR

Use AND to narrow your search.

For example, if you search advertising AND commercials, you will only find articles that include both terms.

Boolean - AND

Use NOT to exclude results with certain words.

If you search advertising NOT commercials, you will find articles that include the word advertising except for those that also include the term commercials. In Google, use a minus sign instead of NOT (e.g. advertising -commercials).

Boolean - NOT


On scratch paper, write down a search string you can use in a database.

  • AND narrows
  • OR broadens
  • Use quotes to find phrases (two words or more)

Online Research: Tips for Effective Search Strategies

Finding Phrases with Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks to search for a phrase (two words or more).

  • undocumeted immigrants
  • “decolonial theory"
  • double consciousness

Finding Different Word Variations with Truncation

Use a truncation symbol (the asterisk * is the most common) to look for different word endings.

  • Latin* = Latin, Latino, Latina, Latinx, etc.
  • colleg* = college, colleges, collegium, etc.
  • politic* = politic, politics, political, etc.

You do have to be careful with truncation. Sometimes you might get unexpected results.

  • minor*= minor, minors, minority, minorities, etc.