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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:
Put quotation marks around key
words to search for exact phrases:
"quality of care"
Add or between
key words to find all instances of either one word or another, for example:
ulcers or sores
This query finds all pages that
mention ulcers or sores or both.
Put quotation marks around key
words to search for them literally. For instance, if you search for:
"health near services"
the search engine will literally find the exact phrase health near services.
But if you search for the same query without the quotation marks:
health near services
the search engine will find all Web pages having the words health
Search with the key word near,
rather than and, for words close to each other. For example,
both of these queries, health and system and health
near system, look for the words health and system
on the same page. But with near, the search results are ranked
by proximity; the closer together the words are, the higher that page ranks.
Look for words with the same prefix.
For example, in your query form type key* to find key,
keying, keyhole, keyboard, and so on.
Search for all forms of a word.
For example, in the form type sink** to find sink,
sinking, sank, and sunk.
Refine your queries with and
not to exclude certain text from your search. For example, if you
want to find all instances of surfing but not the Net, type
the following query: