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Search Tips

Find the Right Expert

If you are having difficulty finding the expert you need, our analysts will be happy to recommend experts.
Simply fill out an Expert Request and leave the "Your Experts" box empty.

If you would rather find experts directly, below are the advanced search options you may use.

Words and Phrases

You do not need to use any special punctuation or commands to search for a phrase.  Simply enter the phrase the way it ordinarily appears.  You can use a phrase anywhere in a search request.  Example:

apple w/5 fruit salad

If a phrase contains a noise word, the search engine will skip over the noise word when searching for it.  For example, a search for statue of liberty would retrieve any document containing the word statue, any intervening word, and the word liberty.

Punctuation inside of a search word is treated as a space.  Thus, can't would be treated as a phrase consisting of two words: can and t. 1843(c)(8)(ii) would become 1843 c 8 ii (four words).

Numeric Range Searching

A numeric range search is a search for any numbers that fall within a range.  To add a numeric range component to a search request, enter the upper and lower bounds of the search separated by ~~ like this:

apple w/5 12~~17

This request would find any document containing apple within 5 words of a number between 12 and 17.

Notes

  1. A numeric range search includes the upper and lower bounds (so 12 and 17 would be retrieved in the above example).
  2. Numeric range searches only work with positive integers.
  3. For purposes of numeric range searching, decimal points and commas are treated as spaces and minus signs are ignored.  For example, -123,456.78 would be interpreted as: 123 456 78 (three numbers).  Using alphabet customization, the interpretation of punctuation characters can be changed.  For example, if you change the comma and period from space to ignore, then 123,456.78 would be interpreted as 12345678.

Wildcards (* and ?)

A search word can contain the wildcard characters * and ?.  A ? in a word matches any single character, and a * matches any number of characters.  The wildcard characters can be in any position in a word.  For example:

appl*      would match apple, application, etc.

*cipl*      would match principle, participle, etc.

appl?      would match apply and apple but not apples.

ap*ed      would match applied, approved, etc.

Use of the * wildcard character near the beginning of a word will slow searches somewhat.

Fuzzy Searching

Fuzzy searching will find a word even if it is misspelled.  For example, a fuzzy search for apple will find appple.  Fuzzy searching can be useful when you are searching text that may contain typographical errors, or for text that has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR).

To add fuzziness, use the % character.  The number of % characters you add determines the number of differences the search engine will ignore when searching for a word.  The position of the % characters determines how many letters at the start of the word have to match exactly.

Examples:

ba%nana   Word must begin with ba and have at most one difference between it and banana.

b%%anana   Word must begin with b and have at most two differences between it and banana.

Phonic Searching

Phonic searching looks for a word that sounds like the word you are searching for and begins with the same letter.  For example, a phonic search for Smith will also find Smithe and Smythe.

To ask the search engine to search for a word phonically, put a # in front of the word in your search request.  Examples: #smith, #johnson

Phonic searching is somewhat slower than other types of searching and tends to make searches over-inclusive.

Stemming

Stemming extends a search to cover grammatical variations on a word.  For example, a search for fish would also find fishing.  A search for applied would also find applying, applies, and apply.

If you want to add stemming, add a ~ at the end of words that you want stemmed in a search.

Example: apply~

Regular Expression Searching

Regular expression searching provides a way to search for advanced combinations of characters.  A regular expression included in a search request must be quoted and must begin with ##.  Examples:

Apple and "##199[0-9]"

Apple and "##19[0-9]+"

A regular expression must match a single whole word.  For example, you could not search for "apple pie" with a regular expression "##app.*ie".  For information on the regular expression syntax, see the dtswin.hlp topic "Regular Expressions".  For search speed purposes, a regular expression is like the * wildcard character: the closer to the front of a word the expression is, the more it will slow searching.  "Appl*" will be nearly as fast as "Apple", while "*pple" will be much slower.

Variable Term Weighting

When the search engine sorts search results after a search, by default all words in a request count equally in counting hits.  However, you can change this by specifying the relative weights for each term in your search request, like this:

apple:5 and pear:1

This request would retrieve the same documents as apple and pear but, the search engine would weight apple five times as heavily as pear when sorting the results.

AND Connector

Use the AND connector in a search request to connect two expressions, both of which must be found in any document retrieved.  For example:

apple pie and poached pear would retrieve any document that contained both phrases.

(apple or banana) and (pear w/5 grape) would retrieve any document that (1) contained either apple OR banana, AND (2) contained pear within 5 words of grape.

OR Connector

Use the OR connector in a search request to connect two expressions, at least one of which must be found in any document retrieved.  For example, apple pie or poached pear would retrieve any document that contained apple pie, poached pear, or both.

W/N Connector

Use the W/N connector in a search request to specify that one word or phrase must occur within N words of the other.  For example, apple w/5 pear would retrieve any document that contained apple within 5 words of pear.  The following are examples of search requests using W/N:

(apple or pear) w/5 banana

(apple w/5 banana) w/10 pear

(apple and banana) w/10 pear

Some types of complex expressions using the W/N connector will produce ambiguous results and should not be used.  The following are examples of ambiguous search requests:

(apple and banana) w/10 (pear and grape)

(apple w/10 banana) w/10 (pear and grape)

In general, at least one of the two expressions connected by W/N must be a single word or phrase or a group of words and phrases connected by OR.  Example:

(apple and banana) w/10 (pear or grape)

(apple and banana) w/10 orange tree

The search engine uses two built in search words to mark the beginning and end of a file: xfirstword and xlastword.  The terms are useful if you want to limit a search to the beginning or end of a file.  For example, apple w/10 xlastword would search for apple within 10 words of the end of a document.

NOT and NOT W/N

Use NOT in front of any search expression to reverse its meaning.  This allows you to exclude documents from a search.  Example:

apple sauce and not pear

NOT standing alone can be the start of a search request.  For example, not pear would retrieve all documents that did not contain pear.

If NOT is not the first connector in a request, you need to use either AND or OR with NOT:

apple or not pear

not (apple w/5 pear)

The NOT W/ ("not within") operator allows you to search for a word or phrase not in association with another word or phrase.  Example:

apple not w/20 pear

Unlike the W/ operator, NOT W/ is not symmetrical.  That is, apple not w/20 pear is not the same as pear not w/20 apple.  In the apple not w/20 pear request, the search engine searches for apple and excludes cases where apple is too close to pear.  In the pear not w/20 apple request, the search engine searches for pear and excludes cases where pear is too close to apple.

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