Advanced Search

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with all of the words
with the exact phrase
with at least one of the words
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Getting Started with Search

To search for a document, type a few descriptive words in the search box, and press the Enter key or click the search button. The search produces a results page with a list of documents and web pages that are related to your search terms, with the most relevant search results appearing at the top of the page. By default, the search returns only pages that include all of your search terms. So to broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms. You do not need to include "and" between the terms.

The search uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. For instance, the search analyzes not only the candidate page, but also the pages that link to it, too. The search also prefers pages in which your query terms are near each other. Every search result lists one or more snippets, or excerpts from the document, to display the search terms in context. In the snippet, your search terms are displayed in bold text so that you can quickly determine if that result is from a page or document you want to visit.

Note: Encrypted, viewable PDF documents are converted to HTML for indexing, but the HTML is not displayed.

Spelling

For U.S. English searches, a single spelling suggestion is returned with the results for queries where the spell checker has detected a possible spelling mistake. The spell checker feature is context sensitive.

Capitalization

Searches are not case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are handled as lower case. For example, searches for "george washington," "George Washington," and "George washington" return the same results.

Word Variations (Stemming)

The search searches not only for your search terms, but also for words that are similar to some or all of those terms. For example, if you search for "info" or "info*," the search will also search for "information," "informing," "informant," and other related variations. Variants of your search will be highlighted in the snippet of text that accompanies each result.

Common Words

The search ignores common words and characters, such as "where" and "how," as well as certain single digits and single letters, because they tend to slow down your search without improving the results. The search indicates that a common word has been excluded by displaying details on the results page.

If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, you can include it by putting a plus ("+") sign in front of it. Include a space before the "+" sign, but not after it.

Alternatively, you can enclose a series of words with quotation marks and do a phrase search.

Date Sort

By default, search results are sorted by relevance, with the most relevant result appearing at the top of the page. If you want to sort the documents by date instead, click the Sort by Date link. The most recent document appears at the top of the page and the date of each file is returned in the results. Results that do not contain dates are displayed at the end and are sorted by relevance.

Expanding Your Search

You can expand your search by using the ORoperator. To retrieve pages that include either word A or word B, use an uppercase ORbetween terms. For example, to search for an office in either London OR Paris.

Refining Your Search

Since the search returns only web pages that contain all of the words in your query, refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. The refined query returns a subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query. If that does not get the results that you want, you can try to exclude words, search for exact phrases, or restrict the search to a range of numbers. These techniques are described in the following subsections.

Word Exclusion

If your search term has more than one meaning, you can focus your search by adding a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign. You can daisy chain a list of words you want to exclude.

Phrase Searches

Phrase searches are useful when you are searching for famous sayings or specific names. You can search for an exact phrase or name in the following ways:

  • By enclosing the phrase in quotation marks. The search will return only documents that includes the exact phrase you entered.
  • By using phrase connectors—such as hyphens, slashes, periods, equal signs, and apostrophes—in between every word of your search query.