If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review. At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results. One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.
For example, a search for gnostic AND bible will return items that contain both concepts:
women OR gender returns items that contain either one of the concepts or both:
disciple* NOT john returns items that talk about any one of the disciples but does not mention John:
An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("nag hammadi") or titles:
For example, "gospel of mary" will search for those words in that order,
Truncation and Wildcards:
Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.
For example, one could search for politic* to find poltic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.
Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.
When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.
gnostic* AND (bible OR biblical OR christian*) AND (heresy OR heretic* OR apolog* OR polemic*) will return results for the union of the three subject areas.