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Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS): A Resource Guide

Tips for Beginners

If you're new to research, start here.  When you become more familiar with the Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) and want to learn more advanced search techniques, please refer to the Experienced Researchers section of this guide.

Don't forget to play around while searching HLAS! The best way to become familiar with HLAS is by using different search phrases and search boxes and adding/removing limits. You may discover something new that will be crucial to your research by trying a different approach or technique. Experimenting with search techniques will also help you search other online resources more effectively. With just a little practice, you'll become an experienced researcher.

This section of the guide focuses on searching HLAS Web. (For information on searching HLAS Online, please see the Experienced Researchers section.)

In addition to Quick Search, there are three other ways to search using HLAS Web.

Keyword Search, like a web search, provides a single search box to find words and phrases anywhere in the HLAS record - or specifically in title, author, or subject fields. Search results are ordered by relevance. A Boolean option is available from the Keyword Search menu for searchers who prefer command-driven queries with Boolean (AND, OR, NOT) functionality.

The Keyword Search URL is:

Keyword Search screenshot in HLAS

Keyword Search is helpful if you're looking for specific items, but are unsure of the complete name of an author, for example, or if you don't know the exact title. Drop-down menu options let you look for keywords in the title, author, or subject. More specific keyword filtering is available with Advanced Search.

Quick Tips for Keyword Search

  • To improve the relevance of your results, try including more words or phrases in your search to ensure that the information you are searching for appears at the top of your search results list.
  • Enter search words with or without diacritics (accent marks); the results will be the same (e.g., Perú or Peru).
  • Capitalization does not matter.
  • Using AND, OR, and NOT will change your search results. AND will narrow your search by combining multiple concepts. OR will broaden your search and look for related terms to the words/phrases you include. NOT will exclude terms from your search.
    • If you want to include the words AND, OR, or NOT as search words, you must include them, along with other words, in quotes as a phrase.

All Words vs. Any Words

Keyword (all words) finds all words in any order or exact phrases located anywhere in the record (combines words using a Boolean AND). Your search results will contain every term in your query. Use Keyword (all words) when you're not sure what fields contain the words or phrases you need or when your searches return no results using title, author, or subject search types.

Keyword (any words) finds any words in any order located anywhere in the record (combines words using a Boolean OR). Your search results will contain one or more terms (but not necessarily all terms) in your query.

For example, searching the term "Mexican muralists" under KEYWORD (all words) results in just over 25 titles including both keywords. If you search "Mexican muralists" under KEYWORD (any words), your results list will include more than 9,500 titles! This is because your search asked for items that include any of the words "Mexican muralists" or "Mexican" or "muralists." If you are looking for something specific, change your keyword selection.

Browse Search provides a search box for finding words and phrases in titles, authors, and subjects, and arranges the results in an ordered alphabetic or numeric list. Browse Search helps you find titles, authors, or subjects in alphabetical order with cross-references. To use this type of search, you should already know the title, author, subject, etc., that you want to find. This search is sometimes referred to as a "left match" search.

The Browse Search URL is

Screen Shot of Browse Search in HLAS

Quick Tips for Browse Search

  • In most Browse searches, punctuation (e.g., semicolons, periods, hyphens, slashes, etc.) at the end of words or phrases is ignored. However, always include punctuation that is found in the middle of words or phrases.
  • Remove initial articles from the beginning of your searches (the, a, an, etc.).
  • You do not need to enter an entire title. You should enter enough of the words (starting with the beginning of the title) to identify the publication. If you type "Chile" in the "TITLES beginning with" search, you will see all of the publications that start with the word Chile (hint: there are over 600 of these!).
  • The "HLAS Subjects beginning with" search option looks at HLAS subject headings listed in Handbook citations.

Advanced Search provides a guided search form that allows you to search for combinations of keywords anywhere in the record or in specific fields (titles, authors/names, subjects, HLAS annotations, publication information, etc.). Advanced Search is useful if you are looking for specific items but do not know, for example, the complete name of an author or the first words of a title.

The Advanced Search URL is:

Screenshot of Advanced Search in HLAS

Quick Tips for Advanced Search

  • Advanced Search allows you to develop more precise searches by combining or excluding search words or phrases.
  • You can specify how you want search words to be combined by selecting all of these, any of these, or as a phrase from the drop-down menu next to the Search Box.
  • You can refine your search by adding limits.