This is the most precise search technique of all. When you enclose multiple words with double quote marks (") on either side, you are telling the search engine that you want only results with those words right next to each other, in that exact order.
This is a good technique to use when you are searching for a 'term of art' (i.e., a term, in this case, one containing multiple words, that has a specialized meaning in a particular field or profession). In other words, everyone when communicating about that topic uses that exact phrase.
Another example of when using a phrase search would be useful is when you are seeking something like a book or movie title, or someone's name.
Most databases allow you to specify that adjacent words be searched as phrases.
Proximity operators also vary by database, but some common ones include:
w# = with
n# = near
Consult the database Help screens to find out how to search by phrases or to specify proximity. You can also Ask Us for advice on searching phrases.
Proximity searching allows you to search for two words that occur in the document within a certain number of words from each other. To do this, you usually type a proximity operator (will vary by database) as well as a number, between two search terms.
e.g. (from Ebsco databases):
(tax OR tariff) N5 reform
oil W3 (disaster OR clean-up OR contamination)
(baseball OR football OR basketball) N5 (teams OR players)
The databases we have that allow proximity searching include: