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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 query:

need information about children's health research

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.

Rules for Formulating Queries

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:


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