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Library Hours
Mon-Thurs     7:30 AM - 2 AM
Friday            7:30 AM - 5 PM
Saturday      10:00 AM - 5 PM
Sunday          2:00 PM - 2 AM

  • On evenings that the library is open until 2 AM, Circulation, Reference and Computer Lab services end at 10 PM.
  • Holiday, interim and summer hours vary.

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    USC Upstate Library
    800 University Way
    Spartanburg, SC 29303
    Phone: 864-503-5620

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How to Search the Web

Boolean Searching Tips Search Engine Searching Web Tutorials & Links

Boolean Searching Tips
Tips for searching the Internet, Databases & the library catalog using Boolean

  • Boolean searching is the most powerful way of searching a computer database.  You may perform this type of search in many of the library's electronic databases, internet databases and CD-ROM indexes.
  • The Boolean search uses three "operators" to combine your keywords into a more powerful and direct search.
  • The Boolean operators are AND OR NOT.  Which operator you choose to combine your keywords determines how the computer performs the search and what information it returns to you.
  • Capitalizing the Boolean operators is not necessary in all databases but is a good habit to get into.
  • AND narrows the search by combining words - the computer looks for all results that have both words connected by AND. (This is helpful when searching for a broad topic that you want only a piece of such as Education AND Preschool)
  • OR  broadens the search by offering more choices- the computer looks for all results that have either the first word OR the second in. (This is helpful when searching for a topic that has several names or terms associated with it such as "Skin Cancer" OR Melanoma)
  • NOT narrows the search by eliminating words - the computer looks for results in a topic and then eliminates a portion. (This is helpful to direct your research away from a topic such as Elementary Education NOT kindergarten)
  • Computers usually perform AND and NOT searches first, and then OR searches.  To avoid getting result you do not want use nesting.  Nesting is wrapping the OR words in parenthesis( ) it forces the computer to complete the OR search first and then move on to the AND or NOT search.

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Search Engine Searching
Additional tips to searching through Search Engines

Star.gifPick a Search Engine and get familiar with it.  Read the help screen.  Learn how to search in that one search engine.  Learn the proximity search terms, and if it operates with natural language or Boolean.  Try some searches and judge the results for yourself.  Are the results the things you were looking for?  Some sites offer advanced searches that help you set up search parameters, other interactive wizards or examples and tips.

  • Use quotation marks to link words together or search an exact phrase.  Most search engines recognize that words enclosed in " " should be found in that order in the results.  This also works with two word terms like "skin cancer" that should always appear right next to one another to be the phrase you are looking for.
  • The addition and subtraction symbols can be used like Boolean AND and NOT to include or exclude words from your search in some search engines.  The + and - symbols attached to the front of a keyword will tell the search engine what words must (+) and must not (-) appear in the results.
  • Use additional keywords to refine your search.  Start off broad and limit out results by adding additional keywords.  By looking at results from a broader search you may find results that you can exclude or include to limit your search to a reasonable number.

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Web Tutorials & Links