A Boolean search, in the context of a search engine, is a type of search where you can use special words or symbols to limit, widen, or define your search.

This is possible through Boolean operators such as ANDORNOT, and NEAR, as well as the symbols + (add) and - (subtract).

When you include an operator in a Boolean search, you're either introducing flexibility to get a wider range of results, or you're defining limitations to reduce the number of unrelated results.

Most popular search engines support Boolean operators, but the simple search tool you'll find on a website probably doesn't.

Boolean Meaning

George Boole, an English mathematician from the 19th century, developed an algebraic method that he first described in his 1847 book, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic and expounded upon in his An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854).

Boolean algebra is fundamental to modern computing, and all major programming languages include it. It also figures heavily in statistical methods and set theory.

Today's database searches are largely based on Boolean logic, which allows us to specify parameters in detail—for example, combining terms to include while excluding others. Given that the internet is akin to a vast collection of information databases, Boolean concepts apply here as well.

Boolean Search Operators

For the purposes of a Boolean web search, these are the terms and symbols you need to know:

Boolean Operator Symbol Explanation Example
AND + All words must be present in the results football AND nfl
OR Results can include any of the words paleo OR primal
NOT - Results include everything but the term that follows the operator  diet NOT vegan
NEAR The search terms must appear within a certain number of words of each other swedish NEAR minister

Note: Most search engines default to using the OR Boolean operator, meaning that you can type a bunch of words and it will search for any of them, but not necessarily all of them.

Tips: Not all search engines support these Boolean operators. For example, Google understands - but doesn't support NOT. Learn more about Boolean searches on Google for help.

Why Boolean Searches Are Helpful

When you perform a regular search, such as dog if you're looking for pictures of dogs, you'll get a massive number of results. A Boolean search would be beneficial here if you're looking for a specific dog breed or if you're not interested in seeing pictures for a specific type of dog.

Instead of just sifting through all the dog pictures, you could use the NOT operator to exclude pictures of poodles or boxers.

A Boolean search is particularly helpful after running an initial search. For instance, if you run a search that returns lots of results that pertain to the words you entered but don't actually reflect what you were looking for, you can start introducing Boolean operators to remove some of those results and explicitly add specific words.

To return to the dog example, consider this: you see lots of random dog pictures, so you add +park to see dogs in parks. But then you want to remove the results that have water, so you add -water. Immediately, you've cut down likely millions of results.

More Boolean Search Examples

Below are some more examples of Boolean operators. Remember that you can combine them and utilize other advanced search options such as quotes to define phrases.

AND

free AND games

Helps find free games by including both words.

"video chat app" iOS AND Windows

Searches for video chat apps that can run on both Windows and iOS devices.

OR

"open houses" saturday OR sunday

Locate open houses that are open either day.

"best web browser" macOS OR Mac

If you're not sure how the article might be worded, you can try a search like this to cover both words.

NOT

2019 movies -horror

Finds movies mentioning 2019, but excludes all pages that have the word horror.

"paleo recipes" -sugar

Locates web pages about paleo recipes but ensures that none of them include the word sugar.

Note: Boolean operators need to be in all uppercase letters for the search engine to understand them as an operator and not a regular word.

[Source: This article was published in lifewire.com By Tim Fisher - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne] 

Categorized in Research Methods

Boolean searches make it easy to find what you're looking for in a Google search. The two basic Boolean search commands AND and OR are supported in Google. Boolean searches specify what you want to find and whether to make it more specific (using AND) or less specific (using OR).

A Boolean operator must be in uppercase letters because that's how Google understands it's a search operator and not a regular word. Be careful when typing the search operator; it makes a difference in the search results.

AND Boolean Operator

Use the AND operator in Google to search for all the search terms you specify. Using AND ensures that the topic you're researching is the topic you get in the search results.

For example, a search for Amazon on Google is likely to yield results relating to Amazon.com, such as the site's homepage, its Twitter account, Amazon Prime information, and items available for purchase on Amazon.com.

If you want information on the Amazon rainforest, a search for Amazon rainforest might yield results about Amazon.com or the word Amazon in general. To make sure each search result includes both Amazon and rainforest, use the AND operator.

amazon

Examples of the AND operator include:

  • Amazon AND rainforest
  • sausage AND biscuits
  • best AND college AND towns

In each of these examples, search results include web pages with all the terms connected by the Boolean operator AND.

OR Boolean Operator

Google uses the OR operator to search for one term or another term. An article can contain either word but doesn't have to include both. This usually works well when using two similar words or subjects you want to learn about.

For example, in a search for how to draw OR paint, the OR operator tells Google it doesn't matter which word is used since you'd like information on both.

Screenshot 2

To see the differences between the OR and AND operators, compare the results of how to draw OR paint versus how to draw AND paint. Since OR gives Google the freedom to show more content (since either word can be used), there are more results than if AND is used to restrict the search to include both words.

The break character (|) can be used in place of OR. The break character is the one attached to the backslash key (\).

Examples of the OR operator include:

  • how to draw OR paint
  • how to draw | paint
  • primal OR paleo recipes
  • red OR yellow triangle

Combine Boolean Searches and Use Exact Phrases

When searching for a phrase rather than a single word, group the words with quotation marks. For example, search for "sausage biscuits" (with the quotes included) to show only results for phrases that include the words together, without anything between them. It ignores phrases such as sausage and cheese biscuits.

However, a search for "sausage biscuits" | "cheese sauce" gives results for either exact phrase, so you'll find articles about cheese sauce and articles about sausage biscuits.

When searching for a phrase or more than one keyword, in addition to using a Boolean operator, use parentheses. Type recipes gravy (sausage | biscuit) to search for gravy recipes for either sausages or biscuits. To search for sausage biscuit recipes or reviews, combine the exact phrase with quotations and search for "sausage biscuit" (recipe | review).

If you want paleo sausage recipes that include cheese, type (with quotes) "paleo recipe" (sausage AND cheese).

Screenshot 3

Boolean Operators Are Case Sensitive

Google may not care about uppercase or lowercase letters in search terms, but Boolean searches are case sensitive. For a Boolean operator to work, it must be in all capital letters.

For example, a search for freeware for Windows OR Mac gives different results than a search for freeware for Windows or Mac.

Screenshot 4

[Source: This article was published in lifewire.com By Marziah Karch - Uploaded by the Association Member: Olivia Russell] 

Categorized in Search Engine

Contents

How to Use the Advanced Search Form

The Advanced Search form lets you focus your search, giving you more precise results.

You can access the Advanced Search in several ways:

  • Clicking on the Advanced Search link found in the Search box on the home page
  • Clicking on Advanced Search in the Modify Search box on the Search Results page.
  • Choosing Advanced Search from the Find Studies menu

    To use the Advanced Search form, enter search terms in one or more fields and then click on Search.

  • A list of search results will be displayed. The total number of studies found is shown below the search box, along with your search terms.
  • The first column of the search results list, Row, indicates the order in which the studies are listed. Studies that most closely match your search terms are listed first. The Status column shows which studies are recruiting new volunteers and which studies are not recruiting new volunteers. (For more details on search results, see How to Use Search Results.)

Search Tips

  • You do not need to use all the search fields. Fill in only the fields that are needed for your search.
  • Click on a field label, such as Study Type, to learn more about it.
  • Try using operators such as OR and NOT to broaden or narrow your search.
  • If your search results do not include enough studies, consider clearing one or more search fields on the form and trying the search again.

Search Term Highlighting

The words you type in the Advanced Search form fields will be highlighted in the text of the study record. Search words and synonyms for search words will be highlighted. For example, if your search words are heart attack, the words "heart" and "attack" as well as synonyms for heart attack, such as myocardial infarction, will be highlighted.

Searches Using the Operators OR, NOT, and AND

Words such as OR, NOT, and AND (in uppercase letters), are known as search operators. You can use these words to tell the ClinicalTrials.gov search function to broaden or narrow your search. Here are some ways you can use search operators:

  • Use OR to find study records that contain any of the words connected by OR.

    Example: aspirin OR ibuprofen

    This search finds study records containing either the word "aspirin" or the word "ibuprofen." Using OR broadens your search.

  • Use NOT to find study records that do not contain the word following NOT.

    Example: immunodeficiency NOT AIDS

    This search finds study records containing the word "immunodeficiency" but excludes records containing the word "AIDS" from the search results. Using NOT narrows your search.

  • AND is not necessary because the search function will automatically find study records that contain all the words specified in the search. However, you may use AND to separate distinct concepts. 

  • Use ORNOTAND, and parentheses to create more complicated search expressions.

    Use parentheses in searches that contain more than one operator (OR, NOT, AND). This means that the words that are together in parentheses will be treated as a unit.

    Example: (heart disease OR heart attack) AND (stroke OR clot)

    This search finds study records containing either the phrase "heart disease" or the phrase "heart attack" as well as records containing either the word "stroke" or the word "clot."

  • Using AND and OR as operators can sometimes be confusing.

    The correct way to search for a phrase such as:

    "ear, nose, and throat conditions"

    is to enter:

    (Ear OR Nose OR Throat) AND Conditions

    However, if you want to find studies with exactly the phrase "ear, nose, and throat" then you should enclose the phrase in quotes.

 Source: This article was published clinicaltrials.gov

Categorized in How to

By William Comcowich—Boolean search queries are a powerful and easy-to-use tool to improve your search results. This article will teach you how to use them.

Public relations measurement and marketing teams may subscribe to a media monitoring service to find mentions of their brands in news and social media. But many companies miss mentions because they aren’t using the best search strategies. Even worse, they may be inundated with irrelevant mentions about companies or brands with similar names in different industries.

The use of Boolean search queries can assure more accurate media monitoring results. It’s especially useful in eliminating extraneous results. Some PR and marketing folks may cringe when they hear they should use “Boolean,” thinking it’s some sort of geeky computer solution that’s beyond their skills. It’s not. The art of constructing Boolean search queries is actually quite easy to learn and master. Mainstream search engines like Google and Bing as well as social media monitoring services such as CyberAlert permit Boolean searches.

Boolean Search Terms Explained

[emember_protected for=2-3-5 custom_msg=’This article requires a subscription. Sign up now and get 30 days of free access to the world’s best source of knowledge and insight about measurement. Or log in if you’ve already signed up.’]
Simply put, Boolean search involves words like AND, OR, and NOT, and punctuation like parenthesis and quotes. In the Google search engines, the connecting words must be in all caps.

Simply put, Boolean search involves words like AND, OR, and NOT, and punctuation like parenthesis and quotes. In the Google search engines, the connecting words must be in all caps.

AND — Write AND between search terms to require the search results to include both words in any order. If you enter the search term Dove, you’ll see results for the bird, the soap, personal hygiene products, and a nonprofit foundation, among other unrelated results. Boolean search narrows results to your desired outcome. If you input Dove AND chocolate, you’ll receive results that contain both words, leading with Dove Chocolate.

OR — OR will produce results containing any of the words connected by OR. If placed between several words or phrases, results will display pages with one, several, or all of the words. You can use OR to search for nicknames, abbreviations, and common misspellings of your company and its products, as in Wal-Mart OR Wallmart OR Wally Mart. Including OR in queries is especially useful in social media, given the preponderance of abbreviations and misspellings.

NOT— Place NOT before a word to exclude the word from results. That’s a useful technique to eliminate irrelevant results. If your company name or other search term is identical to an unrelated term, perhaps another company in an unrelated industry, use NOT to exclude undesired results. The search term Volkswagen may not require NOT terms to eliminate unrelated results, but Lincoln certainly does. Example: Lincoln AND (auto OR car OR dealer OR etc.) AND NOT (president OR penny OR emancipation OR St. OR Ave.)

If you’re researching what consumers are saying about a product online, you can use NOT to exclude the company’s own online comments, since those results would skew research results. In some search engines, the minus sign replaces the word NOT.

Quotes and Dashes  — Use double quotation marks for searches for exact phrases. When you search without putting search terms in quotes, many results will be separated by other words, sometimes many other words. That may not be what you’re seeking. Placing the words in quotes will yield that exact phrase – and it that exact order, as in “Wal-Mart sucks” or “College of the Holy Cross”. Phrases can also be expressed in many search engines with dashes between words, as in University-of-Michigan.

Parenthesis — Parentheses group terms together so operators like AND and NOT can be applied to all the terms in the brackets. For instance, Dove AND chocolate AND NOT (soap OR lotion OR beauty) will exclude mentions of the beauty products.

NEAR— A proximity operator, NEAR returns results when two or more words are close to each other. You determine the maximum number of words separating the search terms. For instance, if you seek Dove within five words of “soft skin”, you would enter something like: Dove NEAR/5 “soft skin”. The NEAR operator helps narrow results when different brands are discussed in the same post.

In some applications, the tilde, the ~ sign on the top left of your keyboard, can be used as the proximity operator. Place quotation marks around the search terms and a number after the tilde to indicate the maximum number of words between the keywords. For instance, “Dove skin”~5 will return sites with those words separated by no more than five other words. Some of the major search engines do not support proximity operators.

Additional Filters — Many search engines and media monitoring systems allow you to apply additional filters based on geographic location, social media channels, language, and other factors.

Companies with difficult-to-search keywords or acronyms may wish to investigate the power of regular expressions (REX) to purge irrelevant search results. Used in addition to Boolean queries, REX statements can add greater specificity to a search query and permit even more precise search results. For example, REX statements can specify initial caps as in Orange, the French mobile phone service, thereby ignoring all mentions of orange with a lower case. Another REX statement specifies all caps as in acronyms (which is especially useful if your acronym is also a common word). Among many other capabilities, REX statements can also stipulate the number of times a keyword must appear in an article. REX statements often solve long-standing search problems. The major search engines don’t typically support REX statements. Among media monitoring services, CyberAlert can include a full range of REX statements in its client queries.

Corporate Functions

A Boolean query is mandatory for any acronym since most every three or four-letter acronym represents multiple organizations. Boolean queries are also very useful in sorting out clips for specific divisions, departments, or geographic areas. For example, legal would have a specific set of Boolean terms plus the corporate or brand names.

A query for legal threats of a bank, then, could be constructed as:

([Name of Bank] OR [Nicknames of Bank] OR [Stock Exchange Symbol] OR [Names of Executives]) AND (litigation OR legal-action OR legal-issue OR class-action OR lawsuit OR filed-suit OR charges OR trial OR subpoena OR inquiry OR examination OR probe OR investigation OR alleged OR deceptive OR fraud OR warning-letter OR lawyer OR attorney OR lobbyist OR money-laundering OR capital-requirements OR corporate-governance OR Securities and Exchange Commission OR SEC OR Federal-Deposit-Insurance-Corporation OR FDIC OR Federal Reserve Board OR Office-of-the-Comptroller-of- the-Currency OR Dodd-Frank OR stress-test OR settlement OR pact OR hacked OR customer-data OR data-loss OR credit-agency OR tax-evasion OR off-shore-accounts)

The same principle can be applied to countries. Combine AND with the name of the country to sort and deliver relevant clips to country managers. Boolean requires using foreign language terms for generic words if searching for clips from the foreign country.

Brands can use Boolean search techniques to search for problems and risks by using problem terms or terms that denote anger such as “sucks.” Thus, a complaint query would read: ([Name of Company] OR [Nicknames of Company] OR [Stock Exchange Symbol] OR [Names of Executives]) AND (sucks OR stinks OR useless OR lousy OR stupid OR worthless OR [etc.])

Bottom Line Boolean search queries can improve your media and social media monitoring results, uncover mentions of your brand and exclude irrelevant results.

 Source: This article was published painepublishing.com By William Comcowich

Categorized in Search Techniques

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Please wait

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Newsletter Subscription

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.
Please wait

Follow Us on Social Media

Book Your Seat for Webinar GET FREE REGISTRATION FOR MEMBERS ONLY      Register Now