At its simplest, a query can be just a word or a phrase. But with the tips on this page, you can expand the focus of your query to give you more complete results. These tips will get you started with basic query language and acquaint you with the full power of the search engine. 

  • By default, phrases will be searched for as though they were all one statement. If you do not get the results you want, try linking your search terms with the word AND if all words need to be found in the same result. Link the search terms with OR to find results that contain one or more of the words in your list.
  • Put quotation marks around keywords if you want to search for the terms literally. For instance, if you type the following query:

"Federal Energy Regulatory Commission" The search engine will literally look for the complete phrase Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

  • By default, a word search will do a search on the word as typed and variations of the word such as bank, banking, and banker. To search solely for the term bank, place the word in double quotations, "bank."
  • Use of the operator AND will return results containing all of the search words specified.

Example: cats AND dogs

  • Refine your queries with the NOT keyword to exclude certain text from your search. For example, if you want to find all instances of surfing but not surfing the Net, write the following query: surfing AND NOT "the Net"
  • Add the OR keyword to select documents that include at least one of the search terms specified, for example: Abbott OR Costello This query finds all pages that mention Abbott or Costello or both.
  • To find words in close proximity, use one of the following operators:


Selects documents that contain two or more words within N number of words of each other.  N is optional.

Example: gathering<near/3>offshore will locate the words gathering and offshore within three words of each other.


Selects documents that include all of the search elements you specify within a paragraph.

Example: "interstate commerce"<paragraph>"natural gas"


Selects documents that include all of the specified words within a single sentence.

Example: "interstate commerce"<sentence>"natural gas"

  • SOUNDEX Expands the search to include the specified word and one or more words that sound like, or whose letter pattern is similar to, the word.

Example: <SOUNDEX>sale

Returns documents that include words such as "sell", "seal", "shell", and "scale." Try also the operator TYPO which expands the search to include the specified word plus words that are similar, e.g., <TYPO>mouse will return documents including "house," "louse," and "moose."

  • MANY Considers the density of search words when calculating relevance-ranked scores. This operator will rank shorter documents with multiple occurrences of the search terms higher than larger documents with the same number of occurrences. Because the relative density of the occurrences is greater in the shorter document, the document is considered to be more relevant to the query.
  • ORDER Specifies the order in which search elements must occur in the document.

Example: <ORDER><PARAGRAPH>(cat,chases,dog) is more likely to return documents that refer to cats chasing dogs, than dogs chasing cats.

  • Ranking Assigns a relative importance, or weight, to search terms from 1 to 100 where 1 represents the lowest importance and 100 represents the highest importance rating.

Example: [50]good,[80]excellent

Ranks documents containing the word excellent higher than those documents containing the word good.

This page was last updated on August 01, 2020