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This guide provides an overview of sociology resources and materials available through NYU Libraries.

Using Boolean Operators

Getting Started With Boolean

Using Boolean operators --AND, OR, NOT-- is a great way to further refine your searches.

Boolean Operator

Search Example



  • A good way to limit/refine your search.
  • Decreases your results.
rivers AND salinity

Retrieves articles that contain both the words river and salinity.


  • A good way to expand your search
  • Useful if you have synonyms that you would like to search for.
  • Increases your results.


fruit OR vegetables


Returns articles that contain either the word fruits or vegetables.


  • A good way to limit your search
  • Allows you to exclude terms from your search results
fruit NOT apples
Returns articles that contain the word fruits but do not contain the word apples.

Advanced Boolean: Putting It All Together

In the above examples, we showed the use of boolean operators with 2 search terms; however, you can join any number of terms with boolean operators.

Parentheses! In the examples below, you'll notice that we use parentheses to group search terms and operators.  The parentheses tell the search engine how to read your search statement.  Remember when you learned about order of operations in math and using parentheses? Same concept.

Search Example


Europe AND dairy products AND export Articles that contain all of the following words: dairy products, Europe, and export.
canoeing AND (kayaking  OR sculling) Articles that contain the both of the words canoeing and sculling; also brings back articles that contain both of the words canoeing and kayaking.
South America AND (puma OR panther) NOT Brazil Articles that contain the terms South America and Puma; articles that contain the terms South America and Panther.  Will not bring back articles with the term Brazil.