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phrase searching and boolean terms | boolean terms more.. wildcards | order of evaluation

advanced text searching

  1. phrase searching

    To search for a phrase in a document use double-quotes around your search terms:

         "milarepa and marpa"

    boolean terms


    By default the search engine combines words using the and term. These two searches are the same:

         milarepa marpa
         milarepa and marpa

    They find all documents which contain both the words milarepa and marpa. Only documents containing both words are returned; documents containing just one word or the other are ignored. The more words you enter, the narrower the search becomes.


    Using the or term retrieves files containing any one of the words entered. This query will find all documents containing the word milarepa, or marpa, or rechungpa:

         milarepa or marpa or rechungpa

    The more words you combine with or, the wider the search is likely to be.


    The not term excludes documents containing a word:

         buddha not mahayana

    finds all documents that contain buddha but do not contain mahayana.

  2. boolean terms (contd.)

    Normally not only applies to the word immediately after it (though see order of evaluation below), so this search:

         buddha not mahayana sangha

    will find all documents containing the words buddha and sangha, but not mahayana.


    The near keyword is similar to and but checks the proximity of words. The near keyword takes a number, the maximum distance between two words for a valid match, e.g. near5

         milarepa near5 rechungpa

    would match if the words milarepa and rechungpa appeared within 5 words of one another.

    near1 means 'next to', which is the same as an exact phrase search. These two searches are the same:

         milarepa near1 marpa
         "milarepa marpa"

    To find the words and, or, near or not, place them in a phrase using double quotes.

         buddha and ananda

    will find all documents containing the words 'buddha' and 'ananda', but

         "buddha and ananda"

    will search only for the phrase "buddha and ananda".

  3. wildcards

    Two different wildcard characters are available.

    * matches any number of characters. It may only be used at the end of a word.


    finds buddhas, buddhahood, etc. as well as buddha.

    The ? wildcard matches exactly one character and can be used within and at the end of words:


    will match buddha and buddho (the ? has been replaced by one letter) but not buddhas or buddhahood.

    Something like this:


    will produce an error, because ? cannot be used at the start of a word.

  4. order of evaluation

    In general, the order of search terms is not important. For example - remembering that not normally only applies to the word immediately after it - these three are the same:

         milarepa not marpa rechungpa
         not marpa milarepa rechungpa
         rechungpa milarepa not marpa

    All three find documents containing the words milarepa and rechungpa but not containing marpa.

    Parentheses can be used to group search words together, changing the way your search is performed. These two are not the same:

         milarepa not marpa rechungpa
         milarepa not (marpa rechungpa)

    The first finds all documents that contain both milarepa and rechungpa, but do not contain marpa. The second finds all that contain milarepa, but do not contain either marpa or rechungpa.

    When constructing complex searches it can make their workings more explicit if you use boolean terms and parentheses. So the above two could be phrased as:

         milarepa and (not marpa) and rechungpa
         milarepa and (not (marpa and rechungpa))