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Phrase Queries

Basic Search – one search box for everything

In basic search, your query is carried out in all parts of the record (author, title, place of publication, publisher, year of publication, shelf number, classification code, etc.), even in abstracts if available and, in some cases, in full texts. The Basic Search search box is included on almost all Freie Universität library webpages and, for Freie Universität students, on Blackboard.

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

Example: bergson materie 1908

♥  For that query, Primo will return all records that contain Bergson AND Materie AND 1908 in any parts of the data. Results may include the original work as well as a review. Search terms may be present anywhere in the full text.

Search scope with or without article search

Before you start your 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 Database scope, to the Course Reserves scope, or to the Freie Universität Berlin University Bibliography 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.

♥ With standard settings active, if no operators are included in a query and the number of results that contain all terms is low, Primo will return results that contain only some of the terms.

Example: honey bee OR honigbiene

♥  Primo will convert the query to: (honey bee) OR honigbiene: Results will contain the terms 'honey' and 'bee' (preferably close to one another); or the term 'honigbiene' (not necessarily close to the other terms); or, of course, all three terms. The parentheses will be added automatically to terms that have no operators inbetween.

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.

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

Queries with more than eight truncated terms will be blocked.

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

♥  Please note: Truncations in queries in all categories within the Articles+ scope or within the FU Catalog and Articles+ scopes combined can produce millions of results. Retrieval will be interrupted, and an incomplete result list will be displayed. Also, the following  message will be displayed: "Please note: Additional results may be available by refining your search query." Skip to Advanced Search in order to continue your search with truncated terms, but refining your search by selecting a search category, such as title, author or subject heading.

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:  "Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft"

♥  Primo will return results that contain that exact phrase.

Advanced Search – seven boxes for more precise queries

Advanced Search gives you more control than Basic Search. Up to seven search boxes can be used. 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.).

Search by categories

Specify whether the term you are using should be part of the author, title, or publisher information. You will obviously get more relevant results.

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

♥  A verbal description of your query appears at the bottom of the search form.

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 titIe 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 Journals filter)


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