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MLA Database: What It Is and How to Search It: Searching MLA--Basic Search

The Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLA) is an index to journal articles, books, and more, published on modern languages, literatures, folklore, film, and linguistics.

Basic Search

For additional help, click on the HELP button on the search screen in the MLA database.

Basic Search

  • In the first box, type the word or phrase you wish to find.  (See screen shot below.)
  • You may combine terms using the Boolean (logical) operators: AND, OR, NOT

Examples: Milton AND women                   allegory OR allegorical

female protagonists AND French literature

african american literature NOT harlem renaissance

  • You can use the truncation symbol, the asterisk *, to find plurals and all variations of a word.  Example:  female* will find female or females, female characters, female protagonists, female figures, etc.  allegor* would find allegory, allegorical, allegorically and any other words that begin with allegor.


  • The wildcard symbol, the question mark ?, should be used within words. To use the wildcard, enter your search terms and replace each unknown character with a ?.  MLA finds all citations of that word with the ? replaced by a letter. 

         Example: ne?t will find neat, nest, or next.  It will not find net because the wildcard replaces a single character.

  • Searches are NOT case sensitive.  You can type your term(s) in upper case, lower case, or a combination of the two.


  • Use double quotes to indicate a phrase search, that is, the words within the double quotes must be found right next to each other, in the order in which you typed them. 


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