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Indiana History

Boolean Operators

Searching is a strategic process in which you can refine as you go along. This tip shows you examples of how to take a broad search and narrow it down using something called “Boolean Operators” (see image below). Boolean Operators are AND, OR, NOT. 

For example, if you were curious about Indiana’s relationship with the Civil Rights Movement, and you just search for Civil Rights Movement, that would be a very broad search, providing you with millions of results. Also, if you search for Indiana History, that would also be very broad, providing numerous results that go into various sub-topics.

Examples of a broad search that will need to be narrowed down:

  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Indiana History

Examples of a progressively narrowed search using Boolean Operators:

  • Civil Rights Movement AND Indiana
    • Civil Rights Movement AND Indiana AND Gary
      • Gary AND National Black Political Convention

Boolean example using AND:

Venn Diagram using AND

As you can imagine, using the term OR, will do the exact opposite of AND. OR will help broaden your results and works well with synonyms, related terms, or related topics. For example, let's say your topic connected to both the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, you could use OR to connect both keywords together to broaden your results. 

Boolean example using OR:

Venn Diagram using OR


Combining Terms:

When using AND and OR in the same search, make sure to place the OR terms in parentheses - just like a math equation, the computer will read the terms in an order to compile a list of results.

For example: (Civil Rights Movement OR Black Power) AND Gary