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Primo Search Help: Searching in Primo

Quick Search Tips

A basic search in Primo gives you an idea of the number and scope of items held by the Charles Sturt University Library. These search tips will help you get started in Primo:

  • Searching for a particular resource? Try entering just the title, instead of using the full citation
  • Leave out punctuation
  • If you're topic searching, put in the most relevant words first
  • Check your spelling!
  • Use individual Library A-Z Databases to find specialised content 

Search Operators

Search operators are combinations of words and symbols that improve your search results. By focusing on certain keywords and excluding others, they allow you to use Primo and Library databases more accurately and effectively. Some examples of operators you can use in Primo are:

Boolean Operators Combine search terms with the boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT to broaden or narrow your results. Boolean operators are used to link your keywords to give you greater control over the number of records you find. They must be written in UPPER CASE, so they are not treated as keywords. Left to right order is used in cases of multiple operators.

Use AND to narrow your results and retrieve results that contain all your search terms. The keywords may not be close to one another within the record, but will all be there:

  • police AND federal

OR is useful for combining alternative keywords that have a similar meaning. Use OR to broaden your results, and retrieve results that contain any or all of your search terms:

  • debris OR rubbish OR waste

Use NOT to narrow your results and exclude irrelevant results:

  • literature NOT review
Quotation marks

Enclose two or more words in “double quotes” to find an exact phrase or words that must occur together in a specific order: “mental health”, "climate change"

Consider searching for a specific spelling of a word: "organise" instead of "organize"


Parentheses (or brackets) combine keywords, control the order of boolean operators, and create more focused search queries:

  • (heart OR lung) AND bypass
  • (Facebook NOT Twitter) AND social media
Truncation  *

Use an asterisk * to replace the ending of a word - this broadens your search by retrieving multiple endings to a word:

  • pollut* finds pollute, pollutes, pollutant, pollutants, polluting, pollution
Wildcard  ?

Use a question mark symbol to increase the number of records you retrieve. This symbol finds a single alternative or additional letter within a keyword:

  • labo?r finds labour and labor; wom?n finds woman and women

If your keywords aren't returning suitable results, consider different synonyms:

  • teenager: tween, adolescent, teen, youth, juvenile
  • customer: client, consumer, patron, purchaser


Searching for your readings

If you have the title of a specific book, journal article or reading, you can search for it in Primo using the title - we call this a known item search.

We recommend that you just use the title when searching for a known item, or the title and one author if it's a very broad title. You don't need to include the publisher, year of publication, or other information. You can use quotation marks around the title if it contains commonplace words.

Avoid pasting an entire citation (including title, authors, date, publisher, journal title, or page numbers) into Primo search, as this can often lead to no records being found. If you get too few results for your search, try removing the quotation marks from around the title of your item, or try using some of the search strategies in the box above!

This video takes you through using search strategies in Primo and other Library databases to help you use your time more effectively and retrieve more relevant results:

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.Acknowledgement of Country

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