Phrases and Word Proximity

Let's say you are looking for articles about women athletes. If you type two words together ( women athletes ) in most databases and search engines, you will be searching for all records that contain these words as a phrase (but not necessarily in this order).

Some databases and search engines, however, will automatically insert the Boolean operator AND and will find all records with the word women and the word athletes, not necessarily together as a phrase.

For example, search WorldCat for items with the phrase women athletes in the title. You will find 450 books, the first one of which is:
Public heroes, private felons : athletes and crimes against women /
Author: Benedict, Jeff.
Publication: Boston : Northeastern University Press, 1997.
Is this about women athletes?

Again, databases for the most part do not interpret what you mean; they look for strings of characters.

If you get unexpected results when trying to search for a phrase, you can try putting quotation marks around the phrase to make sure that the system understands it as such, e.g., "women athletes".

In our WorldCat example above, a search for titles with the phrase "women athletes" will find 244 books, all of which have that phrase in the title
Using quotation marks around a phrase is especially helpful if the phrase includes a Boolean operator or stopword, e.g., "rock and roll".

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