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Arkansas State University

OneSearch: Search Hints

Use this guide to learn how to find books, journal articles, magazines, dvds, pretty much anything using OneSearch..

Search Hints

Phrase Searching     |     Boolean Connectors     |     Wildcards     |     Nesting

Phrase Searching

By default, OneSearch looks for each term you enter in the search bar. You may receive results that include all your terms, just one term, your words together as a phrase, or your words separated out. When you're looking for something specific, especially a name, this can be annoying. Fortunately, OneSearch (and Google and most databases) allows you to use quotation marks " " to do phrase searching. By place your terms in a quotation marks " ", you are telling OneSearch that it must find these exact words in this exact order with this exact spelling. For example:


OneSearch search with no phrase searching

Searching for arkansas state university (no phrase searching) gives me 931,685. However:


"arkansas state university" as a phrase

Searching for "arkansas state university" using quotation marks to phrase search gives me 43,046 results. This means that there were over 880,000 results in my first search that probably had nothing to do with Arkansas State University.

Boolean Connectors

In addition to keywords and phrase searching, you can connect your terms using Boolean Connectors (AND, OR, NOT) to help you expand or narrow your searches. When using Boolean, make sure you write the connector in ALL CAPS.



AND is the connector that tells the software to only search for items that contain all the connected terms. For example, zombies movie would search for either word or both - meaning I would get every book about movies, not just zombie movies, and every book about zombies, not just zombie movies. However, zombies AND movie would only find resources that contain both words - meaning, just zombie movies. This search will give you smaller number of results, but they will be much more relevant to your topic.



OR is a great way to expand your search and search for multiple similar words at once. For example, some people may write about zombies while other about undead. OR let's me search all the variations at one time without having to different searches for each keyword: zombies OR undead OR "walking dead".



NOT allows you to exclude terms you don't want. For example let's say I want to write about zombies, but I don't want zombie movies. NOT allows me to exclude "movies" and focus my search in other areas: zombies NOT movies.



The command NEAR/ or N/ will find results with your keywords near each other in any order. You can add a number after the slash to specify how words can separate your keywords. If you don't put a number, the default is 3 words. For example:

women N/ studies results include: women studies, women and cancer study, women - an ecological study, case-control study in women.


Another useful searching technique is wildcard searching. Wildcards allow you to search for missing/alternative letters or find words based on similar root words. There are two wildcards you can use:

? The question mark (?) will match any one letter in the middle of a word. For example, vamp?re will search for both vampire and vampyre.
* The asterisk (*) will match zero or more letters in the middle or at the end of a word. A search for Ch*ter would match Charter, Character, and Chapter. When used at the end of a word, it will match all suffixes. For example, zombi* would find results with the words zombi, zombies, zombification, zombieland, and zombiescapes.

Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search.


As you've seen above, there are several search techniques that allow you to narrow or expand your searches. All the tricks above can be used together (i.e. zombi* AND film* AND "walking dead"). However, OneSearch can get confused if you have a lot of terms connected by different boolean operators. This is because OneSearch assumes that your search terms should be combined in a certain order: NEAR, AND, OR, NOT.


To help OneSearch understand what terms go together, use parenthesis to nest (or group) terms connect by OR. For example:


(zombi* OR undead OR "walking dead") AND (film OR movie OR television) 


This search will find results that contain any of the words in the first group with any of the words in the second group and saves you time from having to do several different searches!