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Catalogue Search Help


General instructions for using the search software

Tips for searching the OWTL catalogue

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General Instructions for Using the Search Software

I. How to do a Search
II. Displaying Records after a Search
III. Troubleshooting



How to do a Search

To do a search:

  1. Type query criteria or click a Browse button.
    If you fill in more than one box, results must meet all criteria.
    Example: Find documents that contain the word "marketing" AND have a file date of 10-11-2002.
  2. Click the Search button.
  3. Records that meet your criteria are displayed as a report.

Finding words and phrases

Type the word you want to find (computer) or type a phrase (blue harvest moon) to find those words in that order. To find variations of words, type an asterisk at the end of one or more word stems (comput* tech*). Use the symbols & / ! between words or phrases to represent Boolean AND, OR, NOT. Include a space before and after the symbol. Use the proximity operators w# (within) and p# (preceding) to find words near each other. See the examples below.

Type this… To find…
sales meeting a phrase (those words, in that order)
sales / marketing either word (or both)
sales & marketing items that contain both words (items that contain just one of the words will be ignored)
health policy ! medical benefit* “health policy” but not “medical benefit”
sales p5 market* “sales” preceding “marketing” by 5 words or fewer. You can include an asterisk at the end of either word. Do not string together phrases (roosevelt w5 white house).
sales w5 marketing “sales” within 5 words of “marketing” (before or after). Do not include phrases.

Words joined by & / ! are evaluated in left-to-right order. For example, red & white / blue finds index items that contain "red" and "white", or items that contain "blue". Use parentheses to control evaluation order: For example, red & (white / blue) finds index items that contain "red" and "white" OR "red" AND "blue".

Finding a Date

To find a date, use any acceptable format, including, but not limited to, the examples shown below:

Dec 31, 2002
2002 Dec
Dec 02
December 2002

Do not use a forward slash to separate date elements unless you surround the date with quotation marks (for example, "12/31/2002").

You can use the symbols & / ! between dates to do AND-OR-NOT searches. For example, May 2002 / June 2002 finds all dates in May or June 2002.

You can do "less than", "greater than", and range searches for dates (see examples below).

Doing "less than", "greater than", and "between" searches

You can search for items greater than or less than a certain value, or within a range. This is most commonly done when searching for dates, but can also be done when searching for values or text. Use the symbols shown below. When used with a partial date, these symbols search from the beginning of the date (first day of the month or year). A range consists of two values, low and high, separated by a colon. Include spaces around the colon.

Symbol Meaning Example
< less than (before) < 2003 finds dates before January 1, 2003
<= less than or equal to
(on or before)
<= 6-15-98 finds dates on or before June 15, 1998
> greater than (after) > 2002 finds dates after December 31, 2001
>= greater than or equal to
(on or after)
>= 500 finds values greater than or equal to 500
: between 1997 : 1998 finds dates from Jan. 1, 1997 through Dec. 31, 1998 (inclusive)
200 : 300 finds values between 200 and 300 (inclusive)

Using a Browse Button

If a search form includes a Browse button, click it to display a dialog box that shows words and/or terms for which you can search. This eliminates trial-and-error searching and makes searching easier. For more information, click the Help button on the dialog box.

Finding a term (exact, complete match)

A term is a complete item, with no additional text before or after. To search for a term, precede it with an equal sign (=). For example, =macintosh apples finds only that complete term (does not find just "macintosh" or just "apples" or that phrase embedded in other text).

Case and punctuation

Case in query criteria is usually ignored (a search for content server finds Content Server). Punctuation is also ignored, except for the AND-OR-NOT symbols (& / !) and search symbols (for example, : = < >). If you do not want these characters to be interpreted as search symbols, use quotation marks ("Johnson & Johnson") or replace the punctuation with a space (Johnson Johnson).

Note: For Code fields, punctuation and case are not ignored. Code fields are often used for URLs. If the query box has a Browse button, click it and see if the term entries include punctuation. If they do, the field is a Code field.

Clear boxes button

To clear query criteria, click the Clear boxes button on the search screen.

Search button

To start your search, click the Search button.


Displaying Records After a Search

A successful search finds one or more records, which are displayed in your Web browser as a report. Use the browser controls as you normally would, to browse, print, go back, and so forth. You can also:


Troubleshooting: Searches

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems are listed below. If you do not find an answer to your problem here, see WEB_MSG.HTM, which lists error messages in alphabetical order.

I got the message "Unable to recognize as a correctly formed query."

The program cannot understand the search criteria. Possible problems include:

If you cannot determine what caused the error, try a simpler search (for example, just a word in a box) to see if it works. If the search form includes Browse buttons, use them to construct the query, instead of typing criteria. If even simple searches do not work, contact the Webmaster for the site.

I found too many records.

If you used an asterisk, omit it and try an exact search instead (for example, search for computer technology instead of comp*).

Try using a Boolean symbol (& / !) between words to construct more precise queries. For example, to find articles about mythology, not cartoons, search for hercules ! cartoon.

If the item you are searching for includes punctuation, substitute spaces for punctuation (for example, search for db textworks, not db/textworks) or surround the item with quotation marks ("db/textworks").

If you are searching for a date, do not use a forward slash between date components (for example, search for 12-12-98) or surround the date with quotation marks ("12/12/98").

I did not find any records.

Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.

If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, colo*) or separate several possible spellings with a forward slash (for example, search for color / colour).

If you did a complex search, try simplifying it to eliminate confusion. If the search form has Browse buttons, use them to view and paste items to search for.

If you are searching for a URL, try typing it all in lower case.

If you are trying to find records that contain multiple words anywhere in the record, separate the words with Boolean symbols (& / !). Otherwise, you are doing a phrase search, which finds these words in that order.

If your search includes Boolean symbols (/ & !) or range searches (:), put spaces around the symbols.

Do not use words (and, or, not) for Boolean operators. You must use the Boolean symbols (& / !).

Try using / instead of & between words. Using / means either word can be present (john / paul finds John or Paul). Using & means both words must be present (john & paul will not find just "John" or just "Paul").

Remember that range searches involving partial dates start from the beginning of the range. For example: <2003 means "before Jan. 1, 2003."

If the search form includes an Enter password: box, use a password that provides access to the fields you are searching. Contact the Webmaster for the site for a password.

When I try to display records or change forms, I get the message, "Your current query has expired. Perform the search again."

The query set file that stored your search results has expired, so you will have to do your search again. If this message occurs frequently, contact the Webmaster for the site.






Search technology supplied by Inmagic, Inc. http://www.inmagic.com.