How to Use Omni

Simple Search Options

This page describes how to search Omni from the simple search box. The table in this section summarizes the main features you can use to search Omni, while the Simple Search Details section below provides more detailed explanation.

Search feature Example
Type some text and press Enter to search for results that contain all search words smartphones multitasking mental health
Click uOttawa Library + Omni Libraries on the right of the Omni search box, then click uOttawa Library  Searching for a book that is only in uOttawa's collection
Use "quotation marks" to find exact phrases (Omni ignores French «guillemets») "climate change"
Use an *asterisk* to find multiple endings of a word Canad*
Use OR to find results with at least one of the two words* smartphones OR "mobile phones"
Use NOT to remove results that contain a particular word* rhetoric NOT classical
Use AND to find results with both words (this is similar to entering search terms without AND, but it helps you keep track with long search strings)* smartphones AND multitasking AND "mental health"
Use (parentheses) to control how Omni processes a search Canad* AND (smartphones OR "mobile phones" OR "cell phones")
Combine the above features into complex searches Canad* AND (cannabis OR marijuana) AND (legal* OR law* OR regulat*)

*Note that Omni does not currently support the French equivalents OU, SAUF, ET.

Simple Search Details

The simplest search

To begin a search in Omni, type some text into the search box and press Enter. You can search for a title, an author's name, a subject of interest, even an ISBN or ISSN. Make sure that your spelling is correct; otherwise, you may not get the results you are looking for. Note that searches in Omni are not case-sensitive. This ensures that Omni finds your search terms in a document whether they are the first words of a sentence or are presented in all caps.

If you type more than a single word in Omni, Omni searches for results that contain all of those words, and it places results where the words are found close together higher in the search results. Omni also prioritizes results from our print collection. Each additional word you include increases how specific your search is, which decreases the total number of results you will get.

Getting more specific

If a few words in Omni's search box are not helping you find what you are looking for, you can take further steps to make your searches more precise.

  • By default, Omni searches the University of Ottawa Library's print collection, the print collections of 17 other Ontario university libraries, many of the databases the uOttawa Library subscribes to, as well as the uO Research institutional repository. You can set Omni to omit searching the print collections of the 17 other Ontario university libraries. When searching Omni, click uOttawa Library + Omni Libraries on the right side of the search box. (Note that this is not visible from the library's home page. It is only visible within Omni)  Then, from the dropdown menu, click uOttawa Library. Your searches will now omit results from other Omni Libraries (i.e. Algoma University, Brock University, Carleton University, University of Guelph, Lakehead University, Laurentian University, Nipissing University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s University, Trent University, University of Waterloo, Western University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Windsor, York University, McMaster University, and OCAD University).

  • Use quotation marks around two or more words to find results containing that exact phrase. Take note that Omni ignores French guillemets (i.e. « »).

    Searching for climate change will find results about climate change, yes, but it will also find results where the words "climate" and "change" both appear but are unrelated to each other, giving you many more results that are likely not relevant.

    Searching for "climate change" will find results where the two words are side-by-side. You will get fewer results, but those results will more likely be relevant.

  • Use an asterisk to replace the end of a word if there are multiple possible ending for a word with related and relevant meanings.

    Searching for Canada will find results that contain the word "Canada", but it may miss results that contain words like "Canadian" or "Canadians".

    Searching for Canad* will find results that contain "Canada", "Canadian", "Canadians", as well as "canadienne", "canadiennes", "canadien", and "canadiens", which can be particularly useful if you are looking for results in either official language. You will get more results than just searching for Canada; however, you may find additional relevant results you may otherwise have missed.

    Be careful not to use the asterisk too soon. Can* will find results that contain "Canada", but it will also find results that contain "candy", "cannoli", and "Canzoniere".

  • Use an uppercase OR between two or more synonyms to find results that contain at least one of the synonyms.

    Searching for smartphones OR "mobile phones" OR "cell phones" will find results that contain at least one of those names for mobile phones. This will give you more results than just searching for one of those terms on its own; however, it may ensure you don't miss anything that is potentially relevant because it talks about cell phones while you searched for mobile phones.

  • Use an uppercase NOT to remove search results that contain a word that is not relevant or is overwhelming your search results.

    Searching for rhetoric NOT classical will find results about rhetoric, but it will remove any results that mention classical rhetoric. Note that you sometimes miss potentially relevant results this way, for example, a result that mentions classical rhetoric in passing, but is actually about digital rhetoric.

  • Use an uppercase AND between two or more terms to find results that contain all of the terms. This is similar to what Omni already does when you search for two or more words; however, if you have a long, complicated search, it may be helpful to include the ANDs to be clear on what your search is doing.

    If you combine AND, OR, and even NOT in a single search, you want to make sure the search is finding the results you intend. Use parentheses to control the way the search is carried out by Omni.

    If you want results about smartphones in Canada, then searching for Canad* AND smartphones OR "mobile phones" OR "cell phones" will give you way more results than you actually want. It will give you results about Canada and smartphones, yes, but it will also give you every result containing mobile phones or cell phones whether Canada is mentioned in them or not.

    By contrast, searching for Canad* AND (smartphones OR "mobile phones" OR "cell phones") will give you results about Canada and smartphones, and results about Canada and mobile phones, and results about Canada and cell phones.

    To put this all together, imagine a search for information about the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A search string might look something like Canad* AND (cannabis OR marijuana) AND (legal* OR law* OR regulat*). This would find results mentioning "Canadian legalization of marijuana" as well as results mentioning "regulating cannabis in Canada", both of which would be relevant to the topic. If you search Omni with legalization marijuana canada you would retrieve the first result but not the second.

    University of Ottawa Librarians have a lot of experience searching Omni and other databases in this manner. If you are having trouble finding information, get in touch with the uOttawa librarian who specializes in your subject area, chat with an Ontario library staff member, or contact

Simple Search in Omni

Screenshot of uOttawa Library home page
Image of Simple Search box at

Screenshot of Omni search boxImage of Simple Search box in Omni

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