Skip to Main Content

Course & Subject Guides

Religions of the West - Oakland Campus

This guide will assist students in RELGST 0105/HIST 0125 with their research.

EBSCO Search Tips

Note: while these are EBSCO-specific search tips, many similar operators can be used in other databases. 


Search Example



church and state

And retrieves only records containing both terms


clergy or pastor

Or retrieves records containing either term


spirit not holy

Not excludes records containing the second term.



The question mark (?) matches any single character. Wom?n will match woman or women. 17?? will match any date in the 1700's.



The asterisk (*) truncation operator matches 0 or more final characters. So religio* will match words beginning with the letters 'religio', including religion, religious, religiosity, etc.


spirit n2 filled

N (= near) specifies maximum intervening words, any word order. The example specifies a maximum distance of TWO words (n2). It matches "Spirit filled" (ZERO words apart) as well as "filled with the Spirit" (TWO words apart). N(no number) is not interpreted as an operator; you MUST specify a number or the system will just search for the letter n. Use zero for no intervening words: n0.


infant w0 baptism

W (= within) specifies maximum intervening words, but it also specifies word order. So infant w0 baptism matches the exact phrase 'infant baptism'. Note W(no number) is not interpreted as an operator; you MUST specify a number or the system will just search for the letter w.

( . . . )

God and ( grace 
or mercy )

EBSCO supports the use of parentheses to group terms, and it follows approximately the same rules of operator precedence as WorldCat (e.g., AND combining before OR, but whatever is in parentheses combining first). Parentheses may be used to group terms together into sets and subsets. Logical operators may NOT be combined with proximity operators. For example, you cannot search for:>>pray* n4 (group* or meeting*)

two or more words with no operator specified

new age

No operator specified, so defaults to n5 operator. So>> new age is identical to>> new n5 age.

double quotation marks ( " )

"new age"

Double quotation marks indicate an exact phrase like w0. They also indicate the quoted words should be treated as search terms, not operators.


This chart is courtesy of the Dallas Theological Seminary Library. Accessed 9/28/16.