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Advanced Search Help & Tips
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Advanced Search Help & Tips

Hints for the advanced search

General hints

Each search term must contain at least four characters. The search query “Let it be” would return no results.

A number of common words is silently ignored. This is to increase performance and to improve the quality of the search results.

Search operators

There are a number of operators which allow you to fine-tune your search (see below for examples).

  • +
    A leading plus sign indicates that this word must be present in each article that is returned.
  • -
    A leading minus sign indicates that this word must not be present in any of the articles that are returned.
  • (no operator)
    By default (when neither + nor – is specified) the word is optional, but the articles that contain it are rated higher.
  • > <
    These two operators are used to change a word’s contribution to the relevance value that is assigned to an article. The > operator increases the contribution and the < operator decreases it.
  • ( )
    Parentheses group words into subexpressions. Parenthesized groups can be nested.
  • ~
    A leading tilde acts as a negation operator, causing the word’s contribution to the article’s relevance to be negative. An article containing such a word is rated lower than others, but is not excluded altogether, as it would be with the – operator.
  • *
    The asterisk serves as the truncation (or wildcard) operator. Unlike the other operators, it should be appended to the word to be affected. Words match if they begin with the word preceding the * operator.

  • A phrase that is enclosed within double quote characters matches only articles that contain the phrase literally, as it was typed.

Note: Rankings are only applied when “relevance” is selected for sorting.

The following examples demonstrate the usage of the advanced search.

  • apple banana
    Finds articles that contain at least one of the two words.
  • +apple +juice
    Finds articles that contain both words.
  • +apple tree
    Finds articles that contain the word apple, but ranks articles higher if they also contain tree.
  • +apple -tree
    Finds articles that contain the word apple but not tree.
  • +apple ~tree
    Finds articles that contain the word apple, but if the article also contains the word tree, rates it lower than if the article does not. This is “softer” than a search for +apple -tree, for which the presence of tree causes the article not to be returned at all.
  • +apple +(>strudel <jelly)
    Finds articles that contain the words apple and strudel, or apple and jelly (in any order), but ranks apple strudel higher than apple jelly.
  • apple*
    Finds articles that contain words such as apple, apples, applesauce, or applet.
  • “sweet apple”
    Finds articles that contain the exact phrase sweet apple (for example, articles that contain my sweet apple but not my sweet and tasty apple).