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 ethnicity AND roman will return items that contain both "Roman" and "ethnicity":
race OR ethnicity returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:
greek NOT athens returns items that talk about Greek culture, history, etc. but do not mention the city or city-state of Athens:
An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("fayum portraits") or titles:
For example, "golden ass"
will search for those words in that order, finding the novel by Apuleius as well as modern criticism about it.
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.
For example, (greek OR roman) [Subject] AND (race OR racial OR ethnic*) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.
Results from the search include: