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Bielefeld University Library

General Search Tips for Catalogues and Databases

These are general tips for how to enter search terms for performing searches in the catalogues and databases offered by the library.

Upper and lower case letters, special characters, umlauts

Upper and lower case letters are of no significance for the search, both will always retrieve the same result.
One-figure special characters such as the stress on é as in mathématique or the Å in Årsbok can simply be omitted. Umlauts (ä, ö, ü) and ß will be resolved and you retrieve results with ae, oe, ue and ss as well.

However, it is recommended to write in lower case and without special characters.

You enter: mathematique
Your result is: mathématique

You enter: Erlaß
Your result is: Erlass and Erlaß

How to Truncate

The search can be broadened by entering the word parts plus a truncation character.

Use the asterisk (*) to substitute any number of characters.
Use the question mark (?) to substitute exactly one character.

You enter: bibliothek*
Your result is: Bibliothek, Bibliotheken, Bibliothekare etc.

You enter: Tele*on
Your result is: Television, Telegraphenstation, Telefon, Telephon etc.

You enter: do?umentation
Your result is: documentation and Dokumentation

You cannot use truncation characters at the beginning of a search term!

Search Operators

Incorporated in our catalogues and databases are commonly used search operators with which search terms can be combined to formulate a reasonable search request. The operators are defined with their English names or special characters.

The search fields and also the entered terms within these fields will be combined by default with the Boolean operator and. If you want to change the preselection you can click the pull down menu of the selection box which is incorporated in the search form at the bottom of the page. Within a search field you are free to type in operators to combine search words and thus avoid the standard form. The word order in complex queries can be determined by putting round brackets.


Combining your search terms with the operator AND will retrieve documents that contain all entered terms. The word order is insignificiant to the result.

Example: film AND producer

As an alternative you can enter the search terms with blanks inbetween.

Example: film producer

All retrieved documents will contain both film and producer.


Combining your search terms with the operator OR will retrieve documents with either one or both search terms. The word order is insignificant to the result.

Example: film OR producer

The result list comprises all documents containing film or producer or both terms.


Combining your search terms with the operator NOT will retrieve all those documents containing the first search term, but not the second.

Example: film NOT theatre

Phrase Search

With a phrase search you can easily retrieve word orders like complete titles. Enter word orders as they should appear in the results and put the search query in quotation marks.

You enter: "Live or let die"
Your result is: Records titled exactly "Live or let die"

You enter: "journal of biochemistry"
Your result is: Records titled exactly "Journal of Biochemistry"

If you enter the search terms without quotation marks, you will find titles in which all of the entered terms appear in any order.

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