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USC Libraries Search, Users' Guide: Search Help & Tips

This guide will provide information about using the new USC Libraries Integrated Library Management system, Primo.

Search options, features, operators etc.

Phrase Searching  | Field Searching  | Boolean Operators  | Proximity Operators  |  Wildcards  | 

Scholarly Publications Limit  |  Facets  | Browser Support

By default Basic Search performs a keyword search against these items which USC subscribes to or owns:

  • USC Libraries Catalog - includes books, e-books, government documents, videos, audio recordings, etc.
  • Health Sciences Libraries Catalog
  • Advocat records (Law School's Catalog)
  • Articles from most of the Library's print and online journals, magazines and newspapers
  • Content from the majority of the library's full-text databases
  • Records from over 150 of the library's citation databases (such as: MLA International, ERIC, Web of Science, Sociological Abstracts, etc.)
  • ONE Archive's book and periodical records
  • Shoah Foundation records
  • USC Digital Library content
  • USC Archives & Special Collections Finding Aids
  • Over 300 Open Access collections (including HathiTrust, DOAJ, American Memory, and Project Gutenberg)

Use the "Expand My Results" option (on the results page) to discover records from participating libraries (not including their catalog and citation database content)--institutional repository and digital library content, articles from journals USC does subscribe to, and citations from journals to which we do not subscribe. This option allows you to see all content that is indexed on a given topic and submit an Interlibrary Loan request for items to which USC does not have full text access.


Phrase searching

To do a phrase search use double quotes. The query "local food" will only retrieve results with that phrase. A simple search of one or two words will return over a million results. By using quotes around phrases you will return fewer, more relevant results.


Field Searching

The main search box will search across many fields automatically. For example, entering an ISBN or ISSN will bring back records that include those numbers anywhere in the record.

You can explicitly search a field using the syntax: "field:(query)."

Example:  ISSN:(1234-5678) or PublicationTitle:(New York Times)

Searchable fields:

  • Title    
  • SubjectTerms
  • Author
  • Publisher
  • PublicationTitle
  • Volume
  • Issue
  • Language
  • Notes
  • ISBN
  • ISSN
  • DOI


Boolean operators 

These Boolean operators are recognized: OR, NOT and AND. The operators must be written in ALL CAPS.

By default, all search terms will be combined with the AND operator.

To exclude terms use the NOT operator or "-" character before a term.

Example: stress NOT health will retrieve results that do not include the term "health".


Proximity operators: ~#

To perform a proximity search, enclose your search terms in quotes and use the tilde (~) followed by a number indicating the distance you want to allow between the search terms.

Example: "yeast bread"~10 --> this search will find results where "yeast" and "bread" appear within 10 words of each other.

NOTE: proximity searching does not take the order of search terms into account. A search on "boron nanotubes potassium"~6 will yield results in which the three search terms appear in various orders.


Wildcards: ?, *, ~

The question mark (?) will match any one character and can be used to find "Olsen" or "Olson" by searching for "Ols?n".

The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. A search for "Ch*ter" would match "Charter", "Character", and "Chapter". When used at the end of a word, such as "Temp*", it will match all suffixes "Temptation", "Temple" and "Temporary".

Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search, and they cannot be used within double quotes (phrase searching).

Use the tilde (~) character at the end of a word to match similar terms. When used on the term "Lead~" it will match "Wead", "Veade", and "Tead".


Scholarly publications limit

When you check the "Peer Reviewed Journals" option, you will limit your search results to articles from scholarly or peer-reviewed journals. (Note that books from academic and university publishers are often considered "scholarly," but this option eliminates all books from your results.)

This option uses data from UlrichsWeb - Ulrich's Periodical Directory, which identifies scholarly and peer-reviewed journals.



There are a variety of facets to limit and refine search results, similar to Amazon and database providers like ESBCOhost and ProQuest. Each time you turn a facet on or off, your search is repeated and you'll see a new set of results. Most facets will reduce the number of search results (Include results from outside your library's collection will always increase the number of results). Use the More link beneath a set of facets to see additional choices (these are typically listed in order of the number of results) and to use an exclude facet option in addition to the default include option. Take a look at the Overview of Features tab to learn more about the facets available.


Browser Support

USC Libraries Search works best on the following browsers and phones:

  • Internet Explorer 8.0+
  • Firefox 3.6.0+
  • Safari 4.0+
  • Chrome (stable version)
  • iPhone 2.0+
  • BlackBerry 8500+
  • Android 1.0+

Important: Allowing Pop-ups to view images

Pop Up Problem: internet browsers need to allow pop-ups in order to view images from the library's database: ARTstor.

Most browsers allow you to selectively allow pop-ups from individual web sites like ARTstor, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Chrome.

However, there are some browsers -- like Safari -- that do not support selectively allowing pop-ups from particular sites. and are the two web sites for which you should allow browser pop-ups. Version-specific browser information regarding disabling pop-ups is available from ARTstor.