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A Guide to Discovery & Catalogue

A guide to McMaster's Discovery & Library Catalogue search (Now Discontinued).

Boolean - AND,OR, NOT

Boolean operators allow search words to be combined.

AND (all words), OR (any words), and NOT (excludes words) are supported in Discovery & Catalogue.The AND operator is the default operator which means that if there is no Boolean operator specified between words, the AND operator is used.

In the Basic Search, Boolean operators are case-sensitive and must be entered ALL CAPS.


• stocks bonds finds items containing both words, in any order, anywhere
• stocks AND bonds finds items containing both words, in any order, anywhere
• stocks OR bonds finds items containing either word, in any order, anywhere
• stocks NOT bonds finds items containing the first word, but not the second word, anywhere

 Using a mix of Boolean operators in a single search string - e.g., (stocks OR bonds) AND prices -  will not be processed correctly in a Basic Search. Use the Advanced Search to create these more complex searches. Once the search is entered, the appropriate syntax will appear in the search box - e.g., (stocks | bonds) (prices)

In the Advanced Search, use the drop-down menus to restrict searches to certain indexes (i.e.,  Keyword, Title Keyword, Author Keyword, Subject Keyword) and use one or more Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to search for a combination of words in a single search.

Advanced Search - Boolean Searching

Wildcards - ? and *

 A wildcard symbol (or truncation symbol) can be used in a search to find multiple variations of a word.

The following wildcard symbols are supported in Discovery & Catalogue:

  • The question mark ? replaces a single character (1) anywhere in the word.
  • The asterisk  *  replaces any number of characters (0 or more) and can be used in the middle or at the end of a word.  


• wom?n finds items containing woman, women, womin, womyn, etc.
• te?t finds items containing tent, test, text, etc.
• te*t finds items containing tent, test, text, tempt, tenement, testament, , etc.
• environment* finds items containing environment, environmental, environmentalist, environmentalism, etc.
• polic* finds items containing police, policing, policy, policies, etc.
• * finds all items

Phrases - "Quotation Marks"

Put quotation marks "  " around search words to find items containing the exact words in the order specified.


• "gone with the wind"
• "great lakes"
• "to be or not to be"

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