Library Search: hints and tips


Phrase searching

Library Search allows phrase searching. This means that if you insert your search terms in double quotation marks (" ") Library Search will prioritise finding your terms together, in the order you have given.


This is the best way to narrow your search (the example above shows the number of results reduced by over 85% using this technique). This may also mean that you are missing out on results that are relevant to your research, but don't use the exact phrase you have used.


Boolean operators

Library Search allows you to use the Boolean operations AND, OR and NOT. These must be written in capitals to be recognised.

By default, all terms in a search are combined with the AND operator. To expand your search results use the OR operator e.g. “textile OR cloth” will find results that contain either term.


This can be combined with phrase searching e.g. “special effects” OR “body painting”.

To exclude results from your search use the NOT operator before a search term e.g. searching for '"Body modification" NOT Piercing' should find results on a variety of body modifications e.g. tattooing, but will exclude results that mention piercing.



Library Search allows you to use wildcards when you are searching. Wildcards represent one or more letters in a word to take into account variations in spelling and words with a common root.

The question mark (?) can be used to represent a single character within a word e.g. searching for the author 'Ols?n' will find results results by the authors as 'Olsen' and 'Olson'.

The asterisk (*) can be used to represent zero or more characters, within a word or at the end of it e.g. searching for 'Colo*r' would find results containing 'Color' and 'Colour'; and searching for 'Design*' will find results containing 'Design', 'Designs', 'Designer', 'Designing' etc.

But wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search term.