Tips for Successful Searches

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when you are searching in text digital collections.

String matching: The search engine uses string matching to determine search results. That means, for each query term, the primary rule is this: what you put in the form text box is literally what the search engine will look for. This includes complete phrases. Exceptions to the primary rule follow.

Term expansion: You can use an asterisk (*) at the end of a word stem to find plural forms and other variations on that word.

Example: searching for "work*" will match works, worker, working, etc.

Punctuation: All punctuation marks entered in a search box are ignored and treated as spaces.

Example: searching for anti-slavery will match anti-slavery and anti slavery. It will not match antislavery.

Capitalization: Case sensitivity of the search term is not retained in searches by the search engine.

Example: searching for Love will match "LOVE" and "Love" and "love".

Other Helpful Tips

Select specific areas of a text: If you are getting too many results, most of the search forms have pull-down menus that allow you to choose specific genres or text structures to search within. search field options

If you are searching across collections within a group, the items in the menu can change depending on the collections you have selected. A general rule of thumb is: the more collections you select, the fewer specific options will be available to search in.

Click the search button: Not all browsers will allow you to submit any search form by hitting the enter or return key. This is especially the case for forms with more than one input text box. To be safe, click the search button.

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