Before we launched Footnote, we knew search would be central to the success of the site. But, we couldn’t really know how people would want to search the site, or how our data and images would be best searched until we had some people using the site and a wide selection of data to test against.
On the horns of this dilemma, we decided to launch the site with a simple search that would allow people to find what they were looking for while we gathered feedback that we could use to make search better.
Thanks to everyone for your comments and feedback about search. We hope that as you continue to use the site you’ll send us any suggestions you have using the contact form here.
Although the current search is simple, it does have some advanced options that we thought you might like to know about. We’ll be creating some search helps, but for our blog readers, here’s a sneak peek at some of the things you can do.
The basic search on Footnote looks for records that include all the terms you put in the search box, but if it doesn’t find any records with all your terms it will look for records that include some of the terms you included.
Advanced Search Options
For those of you who like a little more control over your search, you can use some simple commands to create a more sophisticated query.
- Put quotes around exact phrases you want to search for.
Example [updated]: “defend the constitution”
Note: Don’t use quotes around first and last name (names are often in different fields of the index).
- Use AND to link words that must be in the result, but not in a particular order.
Example: John AND Adams
- Adding a plus symbol before a word (or words) will also limit results to those that include the word(s).
Example: +murder +revolver
- Add a minus symbol before terms you want to exclude.
Example: -quincy +john +adams
- Adding a NOT before a word will also exclude that word from your search.
Example: +john +adams NOT quincy
- Use OR to do one search that returns result with similar words.
Example: Sorensen OR Sorenson
- Use parentheses to group words and commands.
Example: (Gen OR General) +Washington
- Use one or more question marks in place of a letter to search for variants or errors (note: the ? cannot be the first letter of the word).
Example: Sorens?n = Sorenson, Sorensen, etc.
Example #2: Joh??n = Johnson, Johngen, Johnosn