Search tips

Search Tips

The FreeFind search engine tries to locate pages which have exact matches for all of the words entered in a simple search query. If that fails, it then tries to locate pages which contain any of the words in the simple query. For example, consider the search query James Jackson Lawson without quotes. If the exact phrase is not found, then any page(s) containing James or Jackson or Lawson are displayed and a short message is shown at the top of the search results indicating this has been done.

There are several ways to achieve more powerful and efficient searches.

  1. phrase search
    Three types of phrase searches are supported.
    • To match an exact phrase, use quotes around the phrase
      Example: "james jackson lawson" will look only for that exact phrase.
    • To match an exact phrase or a near phrase (within a couple of words), use square brackets [around the words]
      Example: [james jackson lawson] will find Lawson, James Jackson
    • To match an exact phrase, a near phrase or a far phrase (within several words), use braces {around the words}
      Example: {james jackson lawson} will find James and Elizabeth Lawson had a son named James Jackson
  2. + and - qualifiers
    If you prepend a word with + that word is required to be on the page.
    If you prepend a word with - that word is required to not be on the page.
    Example: +always -never
  3. * wildcard
    If a query word ends with a * all words which start the same way as that query word will match.
    Example: jeff* will find Jeff, Jeffries, Jefferson etc.
  4. ? wildcard
    If a query word contains a ? any character will match that position.
    Example: sn?der will find snider, snyder etc.
  5. boolean search
    You can use the following key words in your search: AND, OR, NOT. These key words MUST be in capital letters.
    Example: (minnick AND "lock springs") OR (ulrich AND sampsel)
    Example: litton AND (offield OR eads)
    Example: "grand river" AND NOT (township OR twp OR tp)
    Example: smith AND (utica OR green* OR ludlow OR monroe)
All of these techniques can be combined: +alway* -ne??r