Advanced Search Techniques

Combining Search Terms with Boolean Operators

Use Boolean operators between two search terms to broaden or narrow a search.
Boolean operators are:

AND terms must be in the same record (narrows search)
OR either one or both terms must be in the same record (broadens search)
NOT the first term must be in the record, and the second term must not be in the record (narrows search)
XOR one or the other term must be in the record, but both terms cannot be in the same record (narrows search)


Alcohol AND Abuse$ (the $ sign is the truncation symbol)
Alcoholic OR Alcoholism
Dogs OR Cats
Alcohol NOT Drug
Narcotics XOR Alcohol
Pollution AND (Water OR Air)
(Adirondack$ OR Catskill$) AND (Parks OR Recreation)
Note: If Boolean operators or stop words are part of a search string, put them in double quotes. To search the term not-for-profit, type "NOT FOR" PROFIT.
If two or more terms are typed in a text input box without using a Boolean operator between them, the system understands the positional operator SAME (the terms must be in the same field) and requires all the terms to appear in the same field.
Note: Boolean operators do not work in Browse search options, which match words with indexes character by character.

Use positional operators between two words to retrieve records in which the two are in a particular physical relationship to each other. Positional operators are:


terms must be in the same field


terms must be in the same sentence in a field


terms must be adjacent to one another, in any order


terms must be adjacent to one another and in the order in which they were entered

Revolution SAME Claims
Investigation WITH Informants
Delinquent$ NEAR Juvenile$
Note: If stop words or operator words are part of a search string, put them in double quotes. To search for the phrase NEAR EAST, type "NEAR" ADJ EAST

Use parentheses to refine a search by grouping words with operators.
Education AND (Child OR Children OR Elementary OR Preschool OR Kindergarten)
(Spatial OR Geospatial) AND (Data OR Metadata)
Marine ADJ (Biology OR Ecology) AND (Arctic OR Antarctic OR Polar)

  • Search Limits

When doing a Power Search, search limits are at the bottom of the screen. When doing a Quick Search, the search can only be limited after results are retrieved. On a screen of brief records, scroll to the bottom of the screen to view the limits. Type in or select the limits, scroll up, and resubmit the search.
Limit a search by publication year, format, language, location, etc.
Selecting the format SERIAL will limit a retrieval set to records for serials. (Caution: not all records have format information.)

Qualifying a search by location may be useful in certain instances. For example, to search for only New York State documents, limit the search by selecting:
Note: For New York State Archives records, it is best to select ALL as the location, as materials could be in multiple locations.

    • MATCH ON

The options are KEYWORDS, LEFT TO RIGHT or EXACT CONTENT. May be useful in Power Search.




> (greater than)

> 1990

< (less than)

< 1950

a range of years


exact year


    • SORT BY

Determines the display order of search results. Results are not sorted if more than 100 records are retrieved.

  • Searching by OCLC number, ISSN, ISBN, or Archival series number

From the WORDS OR PHRASE option in the quick search
To search by OCLC number, type the 3-character prefix "OCM" in upper case followed by 8 digits of the OCLC number. Add 1 or more zeros between the "OCM" and the number if the number has fewer than 8 digits. Records with an ID number 100,000,000 or higher (items after April 2007) will get the prefix ocn (followed by the 9 digit number.) For example:

    • OCM01553347
    • OCM29750123
    • OCN123456789

To search by ISSN, type the number exactly. For example:

    • 0366-5313

To search by ISBN, type the number without hyphens. For example:

To search for an Archives series number, type the number and then be sure to select New York State Archives for the LIBRARY. For example:

    • 12590
Last Updated: June 4, 2012