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How to search for information: Combine search words

Combining search terms

You are likely to need several keywords to describe the topic of your search. In databases the search terms are combined using Boolean logic. Using the Boolean operators AND/OR/NOT allow you to effectively modify your search.

Search in a database. In the first search box alternative search words are combined with OR: "consumer behaviour" OR consumers OR shopping. The second search box: teens OR teenagers OR adolescents OR "young people". The two search boxes are combined with operator AND. Both are searched in Abstract.

What do the words AND and OR mean in this search? Or the quotation marks? Take a look below!

Use search terms effectively



marketing AND fashion

  • use when you want results with both search terms.

Compare with the search marketing

  • results in publications about all kinds of marketing: marketing of cars, marketing planning, marketing companies etc.

Use the operator AND to narrow down your search


travel OR tourism

  • use when you want results with one of your search terms
  • combines alternative search terms

Use the operator OR to broaden your search


travel NOT time

  • use when you want results where the first search term is present but the latter one is not

Compare with the search travel

  • results in a list of publications about all kinds of travel, including time travel.

Use the operator NOT to rule out unwanted topics

Truncate search terms

Truncate your search terms when needed so that all inflections will be covered, e.g.

market? > marketing, markets, market research ...

These truncation markers differ by database, the most popular being ? and *.

Better results with phrase searches

Phrase searching ensures that you will retrieve your search terms next to each other in the order you typed them. Social media, management models or human resources management are a few examples of a phrase.

Use quotation marks when searching for a phrase: e.g. management models”.

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