Skip to Main Content

Search Tips

Phrase Searching (Quotation Marks)

Use quotation marks to search an exact phrase, for example: "higher education"

Truncation or Stemming or Wild Cards

Use a truncation symbol, such as ? or *, to find several words with the same root, for example:
writ* (finds writer, writers, writing, writings, etc.)

child* (finds child, childish, children, and childhood)

behavio?r (finds behavior and behaviour)

Use a truncation symbol when there multiple spellings of a name or word, for example:
Kath* (finds Katherine, Kathryn, Katharine, Katheryn, Kathrine, Kathryne)

Proximity Searching

Proximity searching allows you to search for two or more words within a set number of words. This allows you to search for words that are near each other in any order. For example in JSTOR ("student debt"~10), will yield results with the terms student and debt within ten words of each other.

Databases differ in how proximity searching is written. Some will allow you to include phrases and others will not. 

Proximity searching in the EBSCOhost databases: 

Near Operator (N) - N5 finds the words if they are within five words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear.

For example, type tax N5 reform to find results that would match tax reform as well as reform of income tax.

Within Operator (W) - In the following example, W8 finds the words if they are within eight words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.

For example, type tax W8 reform to find results that would match tax reform but would not match reform of income tax.

Healey Library | University of Massachusetts Boston | 100 Morrissey Blvd | Boston, MA | 02125-3393 | 617-287-5900