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Formulating Search Queries

Simple Search

In basic search, your query is carried out in all parts of the record (author, title, publisher, year of publication, shelf number, classification code, ISBN, etc.), even in abstracts if available and, in some cases, in full texts.

If no Boolean operators are included in a query, Primo will return results that contain all terms used.

Example: bergson materie 1908

Search scope 

By clicking on the magnifying glass symbol or after starting the search, you can determine whether it will be carried out in the combined scopes, FU Catalog and Articles+, or in the FU Catalog scope only, or in the Articles+ scope only. Also, you can direct your query to the Course Reserves scope.

Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT

Allowed operators are AND, OR, and NOT (in capitals). UND, ODER, and NICHT are also recognized. If no Boolean operators are included in a query, Primo will return results that contain all terms used. Be sure to type operators in capital letters because the words 'and,' 'or,' and 'not' are eliminated from all queries.

Example: populism OR populismus

The OR operator broadens the search. Primo will return results that contain either one or the other term, or both.

Example:  ernest hemingway NOT mann meer

Primo will convert the query thus: (ernest hemingway) NOT (Mann Meer), adding parentheses automatically.

Grouping terms in queries with multiple operators

When using more than one operator, parentheses are recommended:

Example: (tsunami AND asia*) NOT (japan OR fukushima)

Results will contain the terms tsunami and Asia, Asian, etc., but not Japan or Fukushima.

Truncation – search with wildcard characters

Search terms can be truncated. That means that you can specify a word base and add an asterisk (*) to replace any number of letters. At least two letters must preceed the asterisk.

Use the question mark (?) in order to replace exactly one letter (example: wom?n).

Wildcard characters at the beginning of a word will have no effect. (Example: ?entralblatt will be treated as 'entralblatt' – not 'Centralblatt' or 'Zentralblatt').

Example:  Sklave* → Sklave, Sklaven, Sklaverei, Sklavenhandel, Sklavenwirtschaft, etc.

Searching exact phrases

By enclosing search terms in quotation marks, you can limit your search to results that contain exactly those words in exactly that order.

Example:  "climate change"

Advanced Search 

Advanced Search gives you more control than Basic Search. Up to seven search boxes can be used. Specify whether the term you are using should be part of the author, title, or publisher information. Boolean operators can be selected from a menu. Boolean operators regulate the way in which search terms are combined. Again, scope selection is possible (FU Catalog, Articles+, etc.).

Example:  Author/creator contains "Bergson" AND Title contains "Materie" + Material Type (filter): Books

Search types

  1. contains
    Default setting
  2. is (exact)
    Use this setting to find exact phrases (see above).
    Alternative: use quotation marks.
    Example for a title search: "To be or not to be"
    Example for an author search: "William Shakespeare"

  3. starts with
    For title searches, search type "starts with" allows you, for instance, to find very short journal titles more easily.
    Example: Spiegel (with Material type (filter): Books)


In order to preclude redundant results, apply the filters for Material Type, Language, and Publication Date in the right part of the search form.