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Information Literacy

To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn.

Introduction to Refining the Search


You will need techniques to refine your search once you get going. Most searchers find that they get too many results, too few results, or completely unrelated results. You are not alone! Knowing the following techniques may help you get results that are just right.

Boolean Searching (AND, OR, NOT)

Refine your search by narrowing it, broadening it, or limiting it.

Have you ever searched for information using either a library database or an Internet search engine (like Google) and retrieved either too many, not enough, or irrelevant results? Learn how to make your searches more specific using the AND, OR, and NOT connectors. Using the AND, OR, and NOT connectors in your search is called Boolean Searching.

  1. Watch the 6 minute presentation below to learn how to refine your search using the AND, OR, and NOT connectors.
  2. Take the Boolean Searching Quiz to test your skill at Boolean searching!

Wildcards & Truncation

Some databases allow certain symbols to be used for searching different forms of a word (such as plurals) or different spellings. Check the help screens of a particular database to determine the appropriate symbols to use.


A symbol used to represent any character. Wildcards can usually be used at the end of a word or within a word. The question mark (?) is used in many databases as a wildcard. You can use wildcard symbols to search variant spellings of a word.

Examples: wom?n retrieves woman or women


A symbol added to the end of the root of a word that instructs the database to search for all forms of a word. The asterisk (*) is used in many databases for truncation.

Example: adolescen* retrieves adolescent, adolescents, or adolescence

Wildcards & Truncation in ProQuest Databases

Wilcards & Truncation in EBSCOHost Databases