Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University

HDFS 585 & HDFS 590 - Professional Seminar/Professional Capstone in HDFS

A resource for students in HDFS 585 & 590, and starting their professional careers

Use quotation marks and proximity operators

When you type multiple words into a database or search engine, it will return results that have all of those terms regardless of how close together or far apart the words appear in the information record. This often leads to results that are not relevant to your research. 


  • If you want to search for terms exactly as you have typed them, place them inside quotation marks: "acting out".


  • You can also use Proximity Operators. This will tell the database to search the results for word combinations based on how close the words are in the text. For example, some databases allow you to search for two words within three words of each other with the symbol "w/3". Each database uses different proximity operators, so you'll need to search the database's help screens to find out which symbols to use.