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Quick Reference: Terms "AND," "OR," and "NOT" to help define a search. Parenthesis control word order in searches. Asterisks and question marks can fill in missing or unknown characters. Quotation marks group words or phrases together.


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What is Boolean?

Boolean is a set of values that help determine if something is true or false. In more simple terms, it allows users to use the words "AND," "OR," and "NOT" to help narrow down search results.

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The following list of Boolean expressions can be used in the Basic Search and Advanced Search:

AND

Type the word AND between two words that you want to search for. This will search for articles that contain both "word1" AND "word2" in an article. If you type a sequence of words without the operator AND between them, the search conducted by the Wiki in the Basic Search or Advanced Search is the same as if you had typed AND. Examples:

  1. word1 AND word2
  2. word1 AND word2 AND word3
  3. word1 word2 word3

OR

Type the word OR between two words that you want to search for. This will search for articles that contain either "word1" or "word2", but not both words together. Examples:

  1. word1 OR word2 (Vital records OR Civil registration)
  2. word3 OR word4 (Census OR Tax)

NOT

Type the word NOT between two words to search for articles that contain "word1" but would exclude articles that also contained "word2". Another option is to use the hyphen in place of the word NOT. Examples:

  1. word1 NOT word2 (Paris NOT France)
  2. word1 -word2 (Paris -France)

Parentheses

You can control the search order with parenthetical expressions by using the parentheses. Example:

  1. ((word1 AND word2) OR word3)

Wild Cards

The asterisk and the question mark can be used as wild cards in a search. Use the asterisk in place of one or more characters at the end of a word. Use the question mark to take the place of a single character in a word. Examples:

  1. birt* - this will return articles that contain the words that begin with "birt" such as birth, births or birthday ...
  2. fa?e - this will return articles that contain the words face, fame and fate ...

Note that you can use more than one "?" in a word. Example: phr??e

Phrase Search

Text with double quotes implies a phrase search. Use this type of search when you need to find an article that includes the exact phrase you are looking for. Examples:

  1. "new york city"
  2. "california birth records"
  3. "family history library"

Mixing Advanced Features

All the Boolean search features can be mixed together to for added strength in searching for articles. Examples:

  1. ((word1 AND word2) AND NOT word*) - this search will return articles that contain word1 and word2, but will not include articles that also contain words that start with "word" like "words", "wordy", or "worded".
  2. word1 OR word2 -"phrase search" - this search will return articles that contain word1 or word2, but will not include articles that also contain "phase search".