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FiNDit Search Help

Boolean, Truncation, Phrase Searching and Wildcards

The Boolean search technique allows you to combine keywords with the operators 'AND', 'OR' and 'NOT'. They connect your search keywords/concepts together to either narrow or broaden your search results when searching databases. Using these operators, you are able to make your search more precise and save time.

AND: Narrows your search, combines different concepts, and retrieves results which contain both/all keywords.
OR: Broadens your search, combines similar concepts (synonyms), and retrieves results which contain either or both/all keywords.
NOT: Narrows your search, excludes unwanted terms from your search.


boolean operators illustrated

The truncation search technique allows you to search databases for variations and plurals of a word all at once. Using truncation will help you search faster because you do not have to manually type multiple endings of a word. The symbol for truncation is usually an asterisk (*), placed at the end of the root word, where the spelling of the word could change. 
Note: Be careful where you place the
The keyword truncation 'commu*' will search commune,commute, communicate, community etc. which are unrelated words. 
The keyword truncation 'touris*' will search tourist, tourists, tourism etc. but not tour or tours.


educat* = educate, education, educated, educational 
adoles* = adolescent, adolescents, adolescence
contamina* = contamination, contaminants, contaminated, contaminate, contaminates

Phrase search technique allows you to search databases for an exact phrase. Using quotation marks (" ") around your search term will help you do a more precise search as it will only return results that contain the exact words in the same order.
Note: Only use phrase searching on widely accepted phrases. Be careful placing too many words in quotations, the database might not find any results. 


"social media"
"climate change"

"job satisfaction"

Wildcard search technique allows you to search databases for alternate spellings and variations of a word by replacing a letter with question mark (?). It is useful for retrieving results with both US and UK spelling variations of a word. Using wildcard will make your search quicker because you do not have to manually type different spellings of a word.  
Note: Wildcard symbols (? #, !) can vary by databases. Please check individual database help pages.


wom?n = woman, women

anal?se = analyse, analyze

Colo?r = color or colour

The key to successful database searching is to practice and use common search techniques along with Boolean searching. It is important to learn these so that you will be able to quickly retrieve relevant information. These videos by University of South Carolina Upstate Library explain some of the basic searching tricks and techniques that will enable you to create a more effective search.

  • Part 1: Boolean operators (AND OR NOT)
  • Part 2: Boolean & common search techniques


The interactive keyword tool from University of Wollongong helps you identify keywords in your assignment question and create a search string/query that can be copied and pasted into the search box of FiNDIt and most other databases. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage to use the tool.

Guides and Tutorials

The Credo Research Skills guide has been designed to give you a foundation in information literacy and critical thinking. Topics have been divided among six modules; each includes videos, tutorials, and quizzes. The Searching for Information module covers the basics of searching for information, including choosing the right source, identifying keywords, and employing search techniques.

The Health Research Readiness modules introduce you to essential health information resources and equip you with the skills to efficiently find, evaluate, and reference them. In Module C: Searching, you will learn how to use health databases and develop your search skills, including building advanced search strategies.