Using Search Operators

Operator Example Description
“ ” "The color purple"

Searches for your terms as an exact phrase.

Great for title searches. Note: quotation marks around a single word will exclude variant spellings and common synonyms.

OR NSA OR "National Security Agency"

Either term can be present in your results.

Allows you to include multiple synonyms in the same search.

NOT cellular NOT phone

Excludes any results where the search term is present.

Helpful for disambiguation. Beware inadvertent exclusions!

AND genetic AND variation

All terms must be present in your results.

Typically used in conjunction with parentheses for complex searching. In the absence of other operators, HOLLIS uses AND as the default connector. Genetic variation returns the same results as genetic AND variation.

Pro tip

HOLLIS will only recognize Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) that are in ALL CAPS. Learn more about Boolean operators (MIT Libraries guide).

( ) ("Affordable Care Act" OR Obamacare) AND "birth control"

Groups search elements.

Use when mixing Boolean operators to ensure the system processes your search in the intended order.

* child*

Matches to any word that begins with the specified string (also known as truncation).

Child* finds child, children, childhood, childproof, childbirth, etc.

? wom?n

Unspecified character (also known as wildcard).

The system will match ? to any single character. wom?n finds women and woman. feminis? finds feminist and feminism but not feminists or feminisms.