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Boolean and advanced searching techniques

This article explains how to refine your search queries using operators.

Search operators are words and characters that search for words, fields, dates, and numbers in specific combinations. You can use operators to refine your search.

Operators work the same way they do in most Web search engines--that is, they are based on Boolean logic--with some very powerful enhancements.

For example, you can create a search for two words that appear in the same document, specifying how close they should be to one another, what field they must be in, and their exact case. In addition, you can specify that one word should be judged as more important than the other, so documents containing the first word appear closer to the top of the list of search results. Using wildcards, you can also search for word fragments.

To use an operator in your search, enter it into the text entry box in the Search bar, using a format shown in the  examples below.

Syntax

Operators must be in all uppercase in order to apply properly. If you enter an operator in lowercase (such as, accrue or exactcase), MasterFile assumes it is being used as an actual term instead of as an operator.

The exceptions to this rule are the common word operators AND, OR, and NOT, which do not have to be in uppercase.  Note, however, that NOT is not an operator, so if the word NOT, in any case, precedes a word without a needed operator, AND will be added, for instance (not ibm) means (and not ibm). The - (minus sign) is the operator that has the meaning "not".

An asterisk and question mark are the two wildcards; their usage is explained below.

Operators

Operators are reserved words. If you want to search for an operator as you would normal text, for example in a phrase such as "Gene and Joan," you must put the phrase in quotes.


Operator
Description and examples
CONTAINS
contains
=
Requires that the field before it must contain the text after it. There should be spaces between 'CONTAINS' and words surrounding it.

Example

[Projectname] CONTAINS top secret

Finds documents whose Projectname field contains the words 'top secret.'
IS PRESENT

Requires that the field before it must be non-blank. There should be spaces between 'IS PRESENT' and words surrounding it. This operator can be used to find all documents that do (or do not) contain a value in a particular field.

Example

[Subject] IS PRESENT

Finds documents whose Subject field is non-blank.
field fieldname
FIELD fieldname
[fieldname] (use square brackets)
Means 'search this field.' You must specify the field to search by using its field name.

Example

Each of the following are equivalent ways to find documents whose Projectname field contains the phrase top secret:

FIELD Projectname CONTAINS top secret

field Projectname CONTAINS top secret

[Projectname] CONTAINS top secret
( ) [parentheses]
Determines the order in which sections of your query are processed. A part of the query enclosed in parentheses will be processed before parts outside the parentheses.

Example

(FIELD Projectname CONTAINS top secret OR FIELD Title CONTAINS tuna) AND (Field body CONTAINS cat OR Field revdate > 01/01/2004)

Return documents whose Projectname field contains the words 'top secret' or whose title field contains the word 'tuna'; and either the body field contains the word cat or the revdate field contains a date greater than 01/01/2004.
and
AND
&
+

Finds documents containing all the conditions or words linked by AND.

Example

cat AND dog AND fish

Finds documents containing all three of these words
or
OR
|
ACCRUE
, (comma)
Finds documents containing either of the conditions or words and returns them ranked by number of appearances in the document.

Example

cat OR dog OR fish

Finds documents containing at least one of these words.

Note: ACCRUE works slightly better than OR when sorting results by relevance.
NOT
not
!
Excludes documents containing the term that appears after the operator.

Examples

You can put NOT between words:
  • cat AND NOT dog finds documents containing the word cat, but not if they also contain the word dog.
  • (cat OR dog) AND NOT (fish OR frogs finds documents containing the word cat or dog, but not if they also contain the word fish or frog.
  • (cat AND dog) AND NOT fish finds documents containing the words cat and dog, but not if they also contain the word fish.
You can put NOT before any field name:
  • NOT [Projectname] CONTAINS top secret finds documents whose Projectname field does not contain the words 'top secret.'
You cannot put NOT after the math symbols =, <, >, <=, or >=; and before a date or number:
  • [date1] = NOT 12/25/2002 is not an appropriate query.
" " (double quotes)
Requires that only documents containing the exact phrase are returned. Placing double quotes around operators (like AND, OR, CONTAINS etc.) allows them to be read as normal words.

Example

"rock and roll"

Finds documents containing the phrase rock and roll.
PARAGRAPH
paragraph
Finds documents in which the words surrounding PARAGRAPH are in the same paragraph, and ranks them by how close they are.

Example

car PARAGRAPH wheels

Finds documents in which 'car' and 'wheels' appear in the same paragraph and ranks them by how close the words are within the paragraph.
SENTENCE
sentence
Finds documents in which the words surrounding SENTENCE are in the same sentence, and ranks them by how close they are.

Example

car SENTENCE wheels

Finds documents in which 'car' and 'wheels' appear in the same sentence and ranks them by how close the words are within the sentence.
?
A wildcard that can represent any single letter. It does not work with dates or numbers.

Examples

?one

Finds documents containing bone, cone, done, gone (and any other four-letter words that end with 'one')

???ck

Finds documents containing stack, clock, stick, truck; rack, rick, rock
*
A wildcard that can represent any extension of letters. It does not work with dates or numbers.

Examples

*one

Finds documents containing bone, cone, clone, crone, done, drone, gone, telephone (and any other words of any length that end with 'one').

Also,

*one*

Finds documents containing bone, cone, clone, lonely, phoned, stoned, pardoned.
TERMWEIGHT
termweight
Gives importance, or weight, to search words. You can use any value from 0 through 65537 to assign weight.

Example

TERMWEIGHT 25 photo or TERMWEIGHT 75 audio  or TERMWEIGHT 50 video

Finds documents containing at least one of the words. 'Audio' is most important, 'video' is next, and 'photo' is least important. Results are ranked accordingly. You need an AND or OR between the first TERMWEIGHT and subsequent ones.
EXACTCASE
exactcase
Search for the exact case of the word specified after the operator.

Example

exactcase Apple

Finds documents containing "Apple", but not "APPLE" or "apple".
= (equal)
< (less than)
> (greater than)
<= (less than or equal)
>= (greater than or equal)
Search for numbers or dates in numeric or date fields only.

Example

FIELD date1<12/25/98

Finds documents whose 'date1' field contains any date before 12/25/98.
- (hyphen)
Finds documents with the hyphenated word pair.

Example

full-text

Finds documents containing "full-text."

MasterFile Field Names

You can limit searches to field names; use the field's actual internal name which is shown at the bottom of a field's pop-up help -- AF_Description_t in the example below.

Example

[AF_description_t] CONTAINS Chemical

Finds profiles whose Fact description field contains "chemical".

Field Name Special Cases

Use the fieldname _CreationDate to find documents by the date they were created. For example,

[_CreationDate]=1/05/2001

finds documents created on January 5, 2001.

Use the fieldname _RevisionDate to find documents by the day they were last modified. For example,

[_RevisionDate]=1/05/2001

finds documents that were last modified on January 5, 2001.

These fields are contained in a document's header, not the document itself, and are therefore not in the list of field names found in the a profiles' properties dialog box. Note that these are not a MasterFile profile's date either; that is a document date and the above two dates are the date the document was created in the database or the date the profile was subsequently modified by a user.