"To Boolean or Not to Boolean"

Boolean is almost as much fun to say as it is to use.  The “techie term” for special search operators can be a powerful tool when fully understood.

A Boolean operator is a way to make your searches SMARTER.  Many websites, including Google and eBay, support Boolean operators in their search box interface.

Five of the more common Boolean search operators are:

  • Double Quotes = Exact Phrasing
    Mexican Wine Glasses = Will only return the EXACT phrase/word in that order.
  • Dash (minus sign) = Excluding
    Wine Glasses French = Will return Wine Glasses that do NOT include French
  • Asterisk = Wildcard
    Wine Glasses Mex* = Will return Wine Glasses with any other word that starts with ‘mex’
  • Tilde = Similar
    Wine ~Glasses = Will return Wine with similar (synonyms) for Glasses
  • OR = Either
    Wine OR Glasses = Will return results with Wine or Glasses

When no Boolean operator is included in the search box, the default that  most websites use is the AND (+) operator.  This makes using the ‘AND’ operator redundant in most cases.  Therefore, it is not necessary to include in the majority of your searches.

You can create some powerfully smart searches by combining Boolean operators.  Next time you are using a search engine or web page with a search box, try out some Boolean operators to see which, if any, are available on that particular site!

Here are a couple of links for further information on Boolean Operators:



dgregory's picture
Don Gregory

As a Technology Instructor for Providence Public Library, Don is immersed daily in the world of computers and other forms of emerging technology. In his blog, he will explore and share the “goings on” in the high speed digital world of the 21st century.


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