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Literature Online (LION): Search Tips

A guide to all aspects of Literature Online (LION) including content, searching, and viewing results.

Boolean Operators


Use AND to narrow a search and retrieve records containing all of the words it separates, e.g. adolescents AND children 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. adolescents OR children will find records containing adolescents only, children only, or both words. 


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

Operator Precedence

ProQuest assumes your search terms should be combined in a certain order. If you include operators such as AND and OR, we will combine them in this order: NEAR, FBY, AND, OR, NOT.

For instance, a search on Shakespeare AND Marlowe NOT poetry would be interpreted as (Shakespeare AND Marlowe) NOT poetry. So in this case, (Shakespeare AND Marlowe) is considered first.

This search will return results regarding the two authors with information on their works of prose or drama, not poetry, as well as criticism and reference regarding their prose and drama works, again excluding their works of poetry. You can also use parentheses to control the order in which your search terms get combined, instead of using the standard operator precedence.The use of parentheses and Boolean operators in combination is perfectly acceptable.

Search Tips

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


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


·        Use special characters and operators to focus queries.


·       The Quick Search page searches across all Literature Online (LION) content simultaneously. Use the content tabs across the top of the page to focus your searching or access browse options.


·        Spelling and Form variants 

    • Found on the Texts search pages (Option 3)
    • Used to locate typographical variants within the texts. EX: virtue, virtve, vertve
    • When checkboxes for variants are not available, use the wildcard symbols - see the box below

           Read more about the Variant Spellings and Forms (login required)

Truncation and Wildcard


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), at the end (right-hand truncation) or in the middle of a word.

Example: econom* will find economy, economics, economical, etc., 

               hon*r will find honor and honour

               *toxic will find toxic, intoxic, nontoxic, neurotoxic, paratoxic, hepatotoxic


The question mark symbol (?) is the Wildcard character, used to replace any single character, inside or at the right or left end of the word.

Examples: t?re will find tire, tyre, tore, etc.

                adv??? will find advert BUT NOT adverse

                ??tire will retrieve attire, entire, retire


Proximity Operators

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




NEAR finds documents where these words are within # number of words of each other (either before or after).

Example: Bronte NEAR.6 Victorian

Example: go near.3 "near" near.3 tool

NOTE: If you want NEAR to be treated as a search term, rather than an operator, put it between double quotes “near”.






Followed By allows you to search for terms that are within # nr of terms of each other and are in the specified order. 

Example: kingdom* FBY.3 horse

Example: merry FBY widow

NOTE: The initial search term or phrase always precedes the latter when using this operator.


NOTE: if no number is specified, either operator will default to finding terms in proximity to up to TEN (10) words