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  • Put phrases in "quotes" - otherwise you'll be finding every file containing those words.  The search engine is programmed to ignore articles and conjunctions (the, of, and, or, etc.).
  • Check spelling - Many searches fail because of spelling errors.  Make sure your search terms are spelled correctly.  The search engine will not attempt to find words that sound like your search terms.  If in doubt, try BioTech's Life Science Dictionary.
  • Avoid common words that are found throughout the website.  For example, don't search duckweed. The search engine is programmed to ignore duckweed and certain other common words.
  • Use multiple words - Use multiple words when performing your search.  More words for a search will return more refined results than a search from a single word.
  • Use related words - The more related words you use in a search, the more relevant results will be to the words that you are searching for.
  • Use appropriate capitalization - Use capitalization when looking for proper nouns such as the name of a person or place. Lowercase words will match any words of any case.
  • Use quotation marks to find words that must appear adjacent to each other within a phrase.  For example, search for "amino acid" within quotes rather than just amino acid.
  • Use Boolean operators:  plus (+) or minus (-)  Precede a search term or phrase with a plus (+) sign to indicate it must appear in a search result. Precede a search term with a minus (-) sign to indicate an undesirable search term or phrase that must not appear in a search result. For example, searching for +growth -root will return results that are about growth, but not about root growth.
  • Use field searches - Field searches allow you to search for words that appear in a specific part of a document such as the body text (body:), title text (title:), alt text (alt:), meta description (desc:), meta keywords (keys:) or URL (url:). The field name should include the colon and precede the search word or phrase with no spaces between them. For example, searching for title:roots will find pages with roots in the title of the page.

Page last revised October 9, 2001