Boolean Searching

What is Boolean Searching?

Boolean searches are carried out using terms like AND, OR, NOT, BETWEEN and WITHIN. These “operators” specify what words the results of your search should or should not contain, and how close your search terms should be to each other.

Why use Boolean Search?

Use Boolean searches if:

  • You want your results to be more precise. Boolean searches will find exact matches only.
  • You want to find a specific document, and are not interested in related publications.

Why use Boolean Search?

  1. Click on Advanced Search on the search bar
  2. On the Advanced Search page, when you are asked to choose which search you would like to use, select Boolean Search.
  3. Enter your search terms separated by the Boolean operators you wish to use.

 

If you do not include a Boolean operator between keywords you are searching on, then UKOP will automatically use the AND operator between your search terms. If you want to search for a phrase using Boolean operators, you should enclose it in quotes. However, if you do this, it will not be possible to look for related meanings or spellings using the ~ (tilde) and ! (exclamation mark).

AND
The AND operator retrieves entries that contain all the search terms entered. This normally retrieves fewer results than searching for a term on its own. You can also use the symbol & instead of the word AND.

If you wish to search for the word “and” in a phrase and do not want it to be a Boolean operator, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks. For example, “crime and drugs” will find the whole phrase “crime and drugs”.

 

OR
The OR operator returns all entries containing one or more of the search terms entered. This also retrieves more entries than searching for a term on its own. You can also use the Symbol | instead of the word OR.


If you wish to search for the word “or” in a phrase, and do not want it to be a Boolean operator, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks. For example “army or navy” will find the whole phrase “army or navy”.

 

NOT
The NOT operator retrieves all entries that contain the first term entered but not the second. You can also use the symbol ^ instead of the word NOT.

If you wish to search for the word “not” in a phrase, and do not want it to be a Boolean operator, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks. For example: “defence not ministry” will find the whole phrase “defence not ministry”.

( )
The ( ) operator allows you to give greater precedence to search terms within it. For example:
      (Law OR crime) OR police
will retrieve all records that contain any of the words “law”, “crime” or “police”, but will give greater precedence to those records that contain the words “law” or “crime”.

BUT
The BUT operator allows you to specify one word and exclude another. For example, the search term:
      Football BUT NOT violence
will retrieve all records that contain the word “football”, but not those that contain the words “football” and “violence”