Tip 5. Know and use Boolean logic

The word “Boolean” comes from 19th century mathematician George Boole. Databases and search engines use Boolean commands to help you refine your searches, which can save you time by filtering out irrelevant results.

For example, you can tell Google to find a phrase rather than single words by enclosing your search terms in double quotation marks.

Try it now:

  • Go to the Google home page.
  • Enter the words “patent law” — surrounded by double quotation marks.
  • Press enter.
  • Note the results.

Repeat the above steps without double quotation marks and see the difference.

Check the Boolean commands that your search engine or database accepts by reading the resource’s Help pages. Also, go to “Advanced Search” to the right of the query window to see the other available search options.

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