Search Help

Quick Search, available in the left column of the Titles List page, enables you to select books based on title, author, subject, publisher or ISBN.

Full Text Search is available both from the Menu Bar and in the Title Display window. Search from the Menu Bar searches across all titles. In the Title Display window, selecting the Search tab in the left hand panel allows you to search the title that is open. Selecting the Search All enables you to search across all titles in the Electric Book collections.

Using Search All in the Title Display window, will first display a list of titles in which your search term is found. Clicking on any title will display the synopses of each searchterm instance in that title. You can toggle between Titles found and Search Results by clicking on each element in the title bar.

Most searches can be performed using the options in the search forms. Using the drop down selections you can search for an exact match for your phrase or for all or any of the words in the entry. If you want a proximity search, enter the words and then choose the "within 5 words" or "within 20 words" options.

For example: Treasure Island and Exact Match will find only the phrase "Treasure Island"
Treasure island and All words will find titles containing both "treasure" and "island"
Treasure Island and Any words will find titles containing "treasure" or "island" or both
Treasure Island and within 5 words will find any instances of "treasure" occurring within 5 words of "island"

If you want a field search on title, author or subject, select the field from the drop down options and enter the text you want to search for. You can use field search on its own or in conjunction with any full text search.

Word stem is on as default and means that a search will find derivatives of the term entered. For example a search for "talk" will also find "talking", "talked" and "talks".

Selecting Fuzzy Search will allow you to search for words which have variant spellings or may have been misspelled. This is particularly useful where words have been transliterated from non-Latin alphabets.

More Search Features

The search engine used is very sophisticated. If you consider that the preset options cannot give you exactly the search functions you require, you can construct your own. Details of how you can use the more advanced options can be found below. Construct your search term, enter it in the box and click on the Search button.

A full-text search is performed using what is called a boolean search request. A boolean search request consists of a group of words or phrases linked by connectors such as and and or that indicate the relationship between them. Examples:

Treasure and Island Both words must be present 
Treasure or Island Either word can be present
Treasure w/5 Island Treasure must occur within 5 words of Island
Treasure not w/5 Island Treasure must not occur within 5 words of Island
Treasure and not Island Only Treasure must be present 
author contains Wells The field author must contain Wells

If you use more than one connector, you should use parentheses to indicate precisely what you want to search for. For example, Treasure and Island or Adventure could mean (Treasure and Island) or Adventure, or it could mean Treasure and (Island or Adventure).

Noise words, such as if and the, are ignored in searches.

Search terms may include the following special characters:
? Matches any single character. Example: dis? matches dish or disk
* Matches any number of characters. Example: dis* matches dishes
~~ Numeric range. Example: 12~~24 matches 18.
: Variable term weighting. Example: Treasure:4 w/5 Island:1

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Words and Phrases

You do not need to use any special punctuation or commands to search for a phrase. Simply enter the phrase the way it ordinarily appears. You can use a phrase anywhere in a search request. Example: Treasure w/5 gold doubloons If a phrase contains a noise word, full-text Search will skip over the noise word when searching for it. For example, a search for statue of liberty would retrieve any document containing the word statue, any intervening word, and the word liberty.

Punctuation inside of a search word is treated as a space. Thus, can't would be treated as a phrase consisting of two words: can and t. 1843(c)(8)(ii) would become 1843 c 8 ii (four words).

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Wildcards (* and ?)

A search word can contain the wildcard characters * and ?. A ? in a word matches any single character, and a * matches any number of characters. The wildcard characters can be in any position in a word. For example:

gol* would match gold, goldmine, etc.

*cipl* would match principle, participle, etc.

dis? would match dish and disk but not dishes.

ap*ed would match applied, approved, etc.

Use of the * wildcard character near the beginning of a word will slow searches somewhat.

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Synonym Searching

Synonym searching finds synonyms of a word in a search request. For example, a search for fast would also find quick. You can enable synonym searching for all words in a request or you can enable synonym searching selectively by adding the & character after certain words in a request. Example: fast& w/5 search.

The effect of a synonym search depends on the type of synonym expansion requested on the search form. full-text Search can expand synonyms using only user-defined synonym sets, using synonyms from full-text Search's built-in thesaurus, or using synonyms and related words (such as antonyms, related categories, etc.) from full-text Search's built-in thesaurus.
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Fuzzy Searching

Fuzzy searching will find a word even if it is misspelled. For example, a fuzzy search for Radar will find appple. Fuzzy searching can be useful when you are searching text that may contain typographical errors, or for text that has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR). There are two ways to add fuzziness to searches:
  1. Enable fuzziness for all of the words in your search request.
  2. You can also add fuzziness selectively using the % character. The number of % characters you add determines the number of differences full-text Search will ignore when searching for a word. The position of the % characters determines how many letters at the start of the word have to match exactly. Examples:
    • ba%nana Word must begin with ba and have at most one difference between it and banana.
    • b%%anana Word must begin with b and have at most two differences between it and banana.

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Phonic Searching

Phonic searching looks for a word that sounds like the word you are searching for and begins with the same letter. For example, a phonic search for Smith will also find Smithe and Smythe.

To ask full-text Search to search for a word phonically, put a # in front of the word in your search request. Examples: #smith, #johnson

You can also check the Phonic searching box in the search form to enable phonic searching for all words in your search request. Phonic searching is somewhat slower than other types of searching and tends to make searches over-inclusive, so it is usually better to use the # symbol to do phonic searches selectively.

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Stemming extends a search to cover grammatical variations on a word. For example, a search for fish would also find fishing. A search for applied would also find applying, applies, and apply. There are two ways to add stemming to your searches:
    1. Check the Stemming box in the search form to enable stemming for all of the words in your search request. Stemming does not slow searches noticeably and is almost always helpful in making sure you find what you want.
    2. If you want to add stemming selectively, add a ~ at the end of words that you want stemmed in a search. Example: apply~

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Variable Term Weighting

When full-text Search sorts search results after a search, by default all words in a request count equally in counting hits. However, you can change this by specifying the relative weights for each term in your search request, like this: Treasure:5 and Island:1 This request would retrieve the same documents as Treasure and Island but, full-text Search would weight Treasure five times as heavily as Island when sorting the results.

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Field Searching

You can perform searches limited to a particular field. For example, you could search for Wells in the Author field like this: Author contains Wells It is not necessary for you to add this to your full-text search, however.  The drop-down choice box for Author and the check boxes for Subject will do this automatically for you.

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AND Connector

Use the AND connector in a search request to connect two expressions, both of which must be found in any document retrieved. For example: Apple pie and poached egg would retrieve any document that contained both phrases.

(apple or banana) and (vine w/5 grape) would retrieve any document that (1) contained either apple OR banana, AND (2) contained vine within 5 words of grape.

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OR Connector

Use the OR connector in a search request to connect two expressions, at least one of which must be found in any document retrieved. For example, apple pie or poached egg would retrieve any document that contained apple pie, poached egg, or both.

W/N Connector

Use the W/N connector in a search request to specify that one word or phrase must occur within N words of the other. For example, apple w/5 pie would retrieve any document that contained apple within 5 words of pie. The following are examples of search requests using W/N: (apple or pie) w/5 banana

(apple w/5 pie) w/10 banana

(apple and pie) w/10 banana

Some types of complex expressions using the W/N connector will produce ambiguous results and should not be used. The following are examples of ambiguous search requests: (apple and banana) w/10 (vine and grape)

(apple w/10 banana) w/10 (vine and grape)

In general, at least one of the two expressions connected by W/N must be a single word or phrase or a group of words and phrases connected by OR. Example: (apple and banana) w/10 (vine or grape)

(apple and banana) w/10 orange tree

full-text Search uses two built in search words to mark the beginning and end of a file: xfirstword and xlastword. The terms are useful if you want to limit a search to the beginning or end of a file. For example, apple w/10 xlastword would search for apple within 10 words of the end of a document.


Use NOT in front of any search expression to reverse its meaning. This allows you to exclude documents from a search. Example: apple sauce and not grape NOT standing alone can be the start of a search request. For example, not grape would retrieve all documents that did not contain grape.

If NOT is not the first connector in a request, you need to use either AND or OR with NOT:

apple or not sauce

not (apple w/5 sauce)

The NOT W/ ("not within") operator allows you to search for a word or phrase not in association with another word or phrase. Example: apple not w/20 sauce Unlike the W/ operator, NOT W/ is not symmetrical. That is, apple not w/20 sauce is not the same as sauce not w/20 apple. In the apple not w/20 sauce request, full-text Search searches for apple and excludes cases where apple is too close to sauce. In the sauce not w/20 apple request, full-text Search searches for sauce and excludes cases where sauce is too close to apple.
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Numeric Range Searching

A numeric range search is a search for any numbers that fall within a range. To add a numeric range component to a search request, enter the upper and lower bounds of the search separated by ~~ like this: apple w/5 12~~17 This request would find any document containing apple within 5 words of a number between 12 and 17.

Numeric range searches only work with positive integers. A numeric range search includes the upper and lower bounds (so 12 and 17 would be retrieved in the above example).

For purposes of numeric range searching, decimal points and commas are treated as spaces and minus signs are ignored. For example, -123,456.78 would be interpreted as: 123 456 78 (three numbers). Using alphabet customization, the interpretation of punctuation characters can be changed. For example, if you change the comma and period from space to ignore, then 123,456.78 would be interpreted as 12345678.

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