Boolean Techniques

by Corr S. Pondent

Boolean search techniques allow you to get more targeted search results when you make Internet searches. You can use Boolean techniques to search an online database too. Boolean search techniques involve the use of terms and connectors, or Boolean operators, to allow you to search for certain combinations of words, or certain phrases.

Use of Connectors

Connectors such as "and," "or" and "not" serve as basic Boolean operators. In conducting your search, you could specify, for example, "men and hairstyle." This has the effect of narrowing the search results to bring up only those results that contain both these terms. Similarly, if you specify "men or hairstyle," this has the effect of broadening your search results. This brings up results that contain both the terms, or either of them.


The use of wildcard symbols is a Boolean search technique that you can use to bring up search results related to a specific word. For instance, if you use the wildcard symbol ! after a word such as metro, in the format metro! -- this has the effect of bringing up search results relating to words starting with metro, such as metropolitan.

Numeric Connectors

Numeric connectors help you to restrict your search results to those containing certain terms within a certain number of words. For example, you could be searching for the words "limited liability" and you want the word "limited" followed by the word "liability" with no more than eight words between them. You could specify this as follows: limited/8 liability.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The major advantage of Boolean search techniques is that you can tailor your search results to be more specific to your requirements. This means you won't have to wade through a multitude of tangential search results you are not interested in. One disadvantage is that you have to know specific terms associated with your search topic in order to get useful results. And the success of your search will depend on how you word the search.

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