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Searching: 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 or proximity 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. You cannot use wildcards in exact phrase searches or proximity searches.

When you are searching specific item record fields in the advanced search form, you can also construct a Boolean query using "OR." This technique will not work for searching the full text of items in our system.
Examples:
thesis OR theses
dog OR dogs
child OR children