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Sofia - User Guide

Research Tips

Boolean operators (ET/AND/+, OU/OR, SAUF/NOT/-) are inserted between keywords in a search box or between search boxes to connect or exclude certain words or phrases.

For Sofia to recognize them, Boolean operators must be UPPERCASE, in French or English.

Keywords and their Boolean operators are processed left to right.


Narrows search results by returning only items that include both words/ phrases connected through the operator.
Example: photography AND war

* If no other operator is entered in the search box, a Boolean AND is by default inserted between the words.

OU/OR Broadens search results by returning items that include either word/phrase connected through the operator.
Example: cellular OR smartphone
SAUF/NOT/- Reduces search results by excluding items that include the word/phrase after the operator.
Example: “renewable energy” EXCEPT hydroelectricity

For more information on Boolean operators, click here.

Use English quotation marks " " to find an exact phrase or the closest words.


  • "Trouble spectre autisme"
  • "Indigenous Women"
  • "Philippe Aubert de Gaspé"

An asterisk (*) isolates the root of a word to include all variations or words from the same family. This generally increases search results. At least three letters must precede the asterisk.

The pound sign (#) substitutes only one letter.


  • Petrol* = petrol, pétrole, pétrolier, pétrolière, pétrolate, pétrolatum, petroleum, etc.

The question mark substitutes several letters (9 maximum).


  • Encyclop?dia = encyclopedia, encyclopaedia

For more information on truncation or masks, click here.

A pound sign (#) or question mark (?) substitutes one or several variable letters in a word. Masks broaden search results. At least three characters must precede the mask.

The pound sign (#) substitutes only one letter.


  • Thes#s = thesis, theses, thèses
  • Wom#n = woman, women
  • The question mark substitutes several letters (9 maximum).


  • Encyclop?dia = encyclopedia, encyclopaedia

Specify the order in which Boolean operators are applied to group keywords. Once the search is launched, Sofia interprets the words and operators in brackets first, and interprets the words and operators outside the brackets last.


  • (itinéran* OR sans-abri OR homeless*) AND (adolescent* OR teenage*)


Most search indexes are displayed in the advanced search window, but you can also enter their abbreviations in the in search boxes (basic or advanced search), and combine them with different operators.

The following list includes the most commonly used indexes and their abbreviations:

*Please note that a colon (:) after an abbreviation launches a keyword search in the index, but the equal sign (=) is used to find a specific phrase in the index In the latter case, the phrase must be located at the beginning of the field in question, without any words after, which significantly narrows results. When in doubt, use a colon with quotation marks. Ex.: kw:“early childhood”. As such:

ti=early childhood
means that we’re looking for documents precisely entitled “Early Childhood”. A document entitled « Early Childhood : A Survey of Best Practices” would therefore not be included in the search results.
ti:"early childhood"
searches for the phrase « early childhood » wherever it may be within the title field, even in combination with other words.

Author     au:shakespeare
   au=shakespeare william
ISBN    bn:9782742798247
ISSN    in:0018-165x
Keyword    kw:enfance
   kw=petite enfance
Language    ln:fra
Editor        pb:boreal
   pb=presses de  luniversite laval
Subject    su:rome
   su=rome antique
Title    ti:antigone
   ti=le pays renversé
Year of Publication    yr:2017
Bar code    bq:X38579059
Format    x0:artchap
   Click here  for the format abbreviations.

Do not use spaces between index abbreviations and punctuation marks ( : or =), or between punctuation marks and keywords. Ex. : au=shakespeare william

Click on author (au=), subject (su:) or collection (se:) to automatically launch a new index search from an item in the results list.

Examples of new searches generated by clicking on item links:

au=Sonis, Michael
(Displays all of the author’s publications)

se:Advances in Spatial Science, The Regional Sciences Series
(Displays all of the collection’s publications)

su:Space in economics Mathematical models
(Displays all publications related to the subject matter)

© Bibliothèque Cégep A-T et UQAT