FAQ Search Tips


Keywords Search

The Keywords search seeks matches for words appearing anywhere in the questions and answers, or in specially assigned keywords related to the questions and answers. For example:

color printer
retrieves:
Where are the color printers located?

alumni privileges
retrieves:
I am a graduate of Columbia University. May I use Columbia's e-resources?
I am a graduate of Columbia University. May I use Columbia's libraries?
I am a graduate of Columbia University. How can I obtain my Alumni Library
Card if I am unable to visit the Library Information Office?

Common Words

Common words such as articles, prepositions, and pronouns are stoplisted, i.e., not indexed for searching. If you input stoplisted words, they will be ignored; only non-stoplisted words will be searched.

Stoplisted words
a, an, and, are, as, at, be, but, by, for, if, in, into, is, it, no, not, of, on, or, s, such, t, that, the, their, then, there, these, they, this, to, was, will, with

Special Characters

Special characters (such as apostrophes and ampersands) are ignored.

Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) for Keyword Searches

AND

When more than one word is input, the search is processed as a Boolean "AND" search: only those questions and answers described by all the words present are retrieved.

OR

Use the Boolean "OR" operator to find questions and answers described by any of the words.  To do this, input "OR" in uppercase letters between the words to be searched. For example:

fine OR overdue

NOT

Use the Boolean "NOT" operator to find questions and answers not described by a particular word. To do this, input "NOT" in uppercase letters before the word to be excluded.  Alternatively, place a minus sign "-" directly before the word to be excluded. For example:

printer NOT color
or:
printer -color

Phrases for Keyword Searches

Use quotation marks (") to find questions described by exact phrases.  For example,

"high school"

Wildcards for Keyword Searches

Use a wildcard (i.e., a truncation symbol) to find questions and answers described by words with variant endings.  Wildcards cannot be used at the beginning of a word.

To use a wildcard, input a question mark (?) for a single character or an asterisk (*) for more than one character. For example:

privil?ge
retrieves:
privilege, privilige [useful when you are not sure how to spell a word]

renew*
retrieves:
renew, renewal, renewals, renewing [etc.]