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Search Function Overview
Free-Text Query Help
Use free-text queries if you want
to perform searches with everyday (natural) language. To do so, check the box
before "Use Free-Text Query" on the Search for Information
or Electronic Catalog page and then use everyday language
for the query. After you begin the search, the search engine will extract nouns
and noun phrases and construct a search query for you. With free-text queries
you can enter any text you want, from a proper question to a string of words and
phrases, without worrying about the query language.
For example, type in the following
need information about children's
The search engine will create a query automatically and begin the search. Note
that when you're using free-text queries, the more precise search features are
disabled, and key words such as and, or, and
near are interpreted as normal words.
- Consecutive words are treated
as a phrase; they must appear in the same order within a matching document.
- Queries are case-insensitive,
so you can type a query in uppercase or lowercase.
- Common words (such as a,
an, and, and as) are ignored during a search. These
common words are treated as placeholders in phrase and proximity queries.
For example, if you searched for data and surveys, the results
could give you data and surveys and data for surveys,
because for is a "noise" word and ignored.
- Punctuation marks such as the
period (.), colon (:), semicolon (;), and comma (,) are ignored during a search.
- To use specially treated characters
(such as &, |, ^, #, @, $, or ,) in a query, enclose your query in quotation
marks ( ).
- To search for a word or phrase
containing quotation marks, double the quotation marks around the word or
words you want. For example, World-Wide Web searches
for World-Wide Web.
Advanced Search Help
Although a search can be performed
with just a word or a phrase, you can expand or narrow the focus of your query
to obtain better results. These tips will get you started with basic query language
and acquaint you with the different types of searches possible. For better results,
you may want to:
to Search for Information
Return to Search Research Activities
Return to Electronic Catalog