Guides > Finding Information in the Portal > Basic Search

Basic Search

Basic Search provides a quick, "no-fuss" way to search by keywords or phrases, but you can also use it to create more sophisticated searches by combining terms, targeting your search, and/or limiting your search to particular types of items.

Finding the Search Screen
Entering Keywords or Phrases
Entering Dates
Targeting Your Search
Limiting Your Search by Resource Type
Finding Plurals and Alternate Spellings

Finding the Search Screen

The Basic Search Screen appears near the top of our home page.

basic_search

You can also navigate to the Basic Search screen from any page by clicking "Search" in the upper right-side navigation menu.

Entering Keywords or Phrases

Type your word(s) or phrase(s) into the Basic Search dialog box. Searches are not case sensitive, so you don't need to capitalize. There are several ways to construct your keyword search:

Single Keyword
Action: enter one word
Search returns: every item containing that word
When to use: for a quick search
Example: shoes

Exact Phrase
Action: enclose a phrase in quotation marks
Search returns: every item containing the complete phrase
When to use: for a quick search
Example: "grocery store"

Multiple Keywords/Phrases
Action: enter several words/phrases
Search returns: every item containing all the words/phrases
When to use: for a more specific search
Examples:
shoes socks girl
"grocery store" emma
"grocery store" "hurricane katrina"

Focused Keywords/Phrases
Action: use the plus (+) symbol and/or the minus (-) symbol before words or phrases
Search returns: every item that includes the "plus" words/phrases and excludes the "minus" words/phrases
When to use: for a more specific search or to clarify a word/phrase's meaning
Examples:
+shoes +socks
+shoes +socks -stockings
+bass -fishing
+kid -gloves -leather -goat
+"civil war" -north -yankee
+"civil war" -"human rights"

Keywords/Phrases with OR
Action: enter several words/phrases separated by the word OR.
Search returns: every item containing at least one of the words/phrases
When to use: for a less specific search or to find plurals
Examples:
"grocery store" OR "general store"
"department store" OR mercantile
shoe OR shoes
child OR children OR kid OR kids

Entering Dates

This feature allows you to locate items created or published in a particular year or range of years. In the Basic Search dialog box, type date: followed by your year or range of years. Target the search to fulltext; you cannot use this feature with the "metadata," "title," "subject," or "creator" options.

Single Year
Action: enter date: followed by one four-digit year
Search returns: every item created or published in that year
Example:
date:1870

Range of Years
Action: enter date: followed by one four-digit year, a hyphen (-), and then a second four-digit year.
Search returns: every item created or published in the first year, the last year, or any of the years in between.
Example:
date:1952-1958

Years Before
Action: enter date: followed by an asterisk, a hyphen (-), and then a four digit year.
Search returns: every item created or published before or during the specified year.
Example:
date:*-1860

Years After
Action: enter date: followed by a four digit year, a hyphen (-), and then an asterisk. Search returns: every item created or published during or after the specified year.
Example:
date:1965-*

Targeting Your Search

Using the drop-down box to the right of the Basic Search dialog box, you can target your search with one of these options:

targetsearch

fulltext - searches all the item records plus all text that has been transcribed or read by optical character recognition (OCR) technology

metadata - searches the metadata within the item records

title - searches only the title fields within the item records

subject - searches only the subject fields within the item records

creator - searches only the creator fields within the item records

Limiting Your Search by Resource Type

The default setting in Basic Search is to search "everything": all types of materials. However, by clicking one of the links directly above the Basic Search dialog box, you can restrict your search to specific types of materials.

Using the drop-down box labeled "More," above the "Submit" button, you can target your search by additional resource types.

targetsearch

Finding Plurals and Alternate Spellings

Diacritic Characters
When you enter a search word or phrase containing diacritic characters, they are converted to their closest A-to-Z letter and then submitted to the system. A search for "José María Falcón" will return the same results as a search for "Jose Maria Falcon."

Wildcards
If you are unsure of a spelling, or if you want to broaden your search, you can insert wildcards into your search terms. A wildcard tells the search engine to look for any letter(s) or character(s) in the position of the wildcard.

You can place wildcards anywhere other than the beginning of a word. Use wildcards in searches that contain one word or multiple words, but not in exact phrase searches.

Use a question mark (?) to replace an individual letter or character.
Examples:
capit?l returns capital, capitol, etc.
sm?th returns Smith, Smuth, Smyth, etc.
s??t? returns Smith, Smuth, Smyth, slate, spates, etc.

Use an asterisk (*) to replace multiple letters or characters.
Examples:
f*t returns fit, feet, foot, flight, freight, etc.
mcda* returns McDaniel, McDavid, McDavidson, etc.
m*da* returns McDaniel, MacDaniel, Mardale, modality, etc.

You can use both question marks and asterisks in the same query.
Examples:
str?ng* returns strange, string, strings, strongly, etc.
thom?? je*son returns Thomas Jefferson, Thomie Jepson, etc.

As you can see from the examples above, wildcard searching sometimes produces unexpected results.

Plurals
We are not currently implementing stemming, so neither regular nor irregular plurals are automatically located in a keyword search. To search for both the singular and plural forms of a word, use wildcards in the position of the letters that would form the plural. For example, searching thes?s will locate both thesis and theses. Searching dog? will locate both dog and dogs, but it will also find words such as Doge. Searching child* will locate child, child's, and children, but it will also find many other words with child as their root such as Childress, Childers, etc.