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Applied Searching  «Prev  Next»
Lesson 4 Refining and expanding searches
Objective Use advanced searching techniques to narrow or widen the search scope.

Refining and Expanding Searches

Boolean operators will give you better results than a simple keyword search, but their use is often interpreted by search engines and directories as "I (the searcher) prefer results meeting these conditions," not, "I want to see only results that meet these criteria." Often, matching results will appear at the top of the list, but if you go a few pages further, you will begin to see results that are not as accurate. There is a need for an operator that is more limiting.

Here are two:
  1. Required and excluded terms
  2. Phrase searching

There will also be occasions when you may need to expand your search to cover multiple forms of a word, or a person's name that you are not sure how to spell... is it Johnson, Johnston, Johnstone, or maybe even Johnstayne? You could use Boolean ORs, but you might leave one possible spelling out. The better technique is to use an expanding operator, which is called a Wildcard and use John* as your query.
These operators cover most situations, but here is search problem that needs a different refinement.
If you were searching for information on adult education with "adult education", your results will not include documents that use the phrase adult continuing education (phrase searching requires an exact match).
However, if you search with +adult +education, your results could include documents that discuss adult acne and clear skin education. Though both your keywords are individually present, you have not indicated that the results should exclude documents that do not connect the two words.

Proximity searching offers a solution by searching for keywords or phrases that occur next to or close to one another.

Refining Searches - Exercise

Click the Exercise link below to use advanced operators in solving a search problem.
Refining Searches - Exercise