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Early European Books: Search Tips

Boolean Operators


Use AND to narrow a search and retrieve records containing all of the words it separates, e.g. ecclesiast* AND benedict* will only find records containing both these words.



Use OR to broaden a search and retrieve records containing any of the words it separates, e.g. plague OR peste will find records containing plague only, peste only, or both words. 


Use NOT to narrow a search and retrieve records that do not contain the term following it, e.g. peste NOT remed* will find records that contain peste, but will not contain the word remed*.

Proximity Operators

Proximity and adjacency operators are used to broaden and narrow your search.


Finds documents where these words are within some number of words of each other (either before or after).
Example: davids NEAR.3 psalter

 If you don't specify a number, Early European Books will retrieve the terms within 10 words of each other.


Finds documents where these words are within some number of words of each other in the specified order.
Example: davids FBY.3  psalter

If you don't specify a number, Early European Books will retrieve the terms within 10 words of each other. 


Truncation, Wildcard, and Hyphen Characters


The asterisk (*) is the Truncation character, used to replace one or more characters. The truncation character can be used at the beginning (left-hand truncation), the end (right-hand truncation), or in the middle of a word.

Example: Searching for benedict* will find benedictus, benedictin, benedict, etc.
Searching for *ment will find instrument, treatment, etc.


The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, either inside or at the right end of the word.
The wildcard character cannot be used to begin a word.

Example: Searching for wom?n will find woman, women .

Search Tips

  • Use quotation marks (“”) to search for exact phrases.

  • Two word queries such as advertising campaigns are searched as an implicit AND.

  • Use special characters and operators to focus queries.

  • If a specific field is not entered with a search query, the default is to search across All Fields+ text (all indexed fields of the full record plus the full-text from ProQuest) or All Fields (no full text) (all indexed fields of the full record, but not including the full-text). This default is determined by your ProQuest administrator and the preference can also be chosen in the account preferences section of your My Research account. Please see the My Research section of this guide for additional information on creating a My Research account and changing preferences.

  • Historical and Linguistic Variants. This search feature expands the search query in two ways: by including variants from the CERL Thesaurus, and by including variant characters which were frequently used interchangeably by early modern printers. Both of these features are automatically included in all Quick Search queries, and can be included in other searches using the Find historical and linguistic variants checkbox on the Search page.

    CERL Thesaurus
    This collaborative project by members of the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL,, contains forms of imprint places, imprint names, personal names and corporate names found in found in Early Modern printed books, including variant spellings, forms in Latin and other languages, and pseudonyms. The Thesaurus, comprising more than 700,000 records, has been integrated into the search feature of Early European Books, allowing users to search for modern forms of city names in a variety of languages (Venezia, Venice, Venedig) and return hits for historical and Latin variants, or search for personal names such as Virgil and retrieve hits for 'Virgilius Maro, Publius' or 'Vergilio'.

    Typographical variants

    Early modern typographical conventions mean that in pre-1700 texts certain characters are often used interchangeably. For instance, the characters j and i are often exchanged, while the character u often appears as a v, and vice versa. As a result, the word Jupiter can appear as Iupiter, Jvpiter or Ivpiter.

    When you search with the Find historical and linguistic variants box checked, you will automatically retrieve instances of your search term in which these substitutions have taken place. The search automatically transposes i for j and vice versa, u for v, uu and vv for w, and other variants.

    Search fields affected:

    Quick Search
    automatically searches for both of these sets of variants

    field: this also searches for both sets of variants, if the box is checked

    Author, Place of publication, Printer/publisher name and Country
    : checking the box will enable searching for CERL Thesaurus variants, but not for typographical variants

    Title keyword(s)
    and Imprint: these fields preserve the original printed versions of title and imprint without standardization. Checking the box will enable searching for typographical variants, but not CERL variants.

    The other fields on the Search page (Bibliographic Number, Subject, Language, Source Library, Shelfmark) contain controlled data in modern, orthodox spelling. Checking the Find historical and linguistic variants box does not affect searches using these fields.