Skip to Content

Suggestions for searching in Everything

Boolean, phrase, wildcard and proximity searches can all be used in Everything.

  • Boolean searches, depending on how they are written, can either limit or expand your search.
  • Wildcard searches expand your search based on word stems or spelling variations.
  • Proximity searches limit results to terms that appear within a specified number of words in a string.

Phrase Searching

Everything allows for phrase searching with the use of double quotes. The query “teacher education” will find results containing that phrase.

Exact matches on words within a phrase search (with double quotes) get a higher relevancy boost over the same words in non-phrase searches (without double quotes).


When looking for the exact phrase "heavy metals", a search for "heavy metals" (in double quotes) will emphasize that phrase over "heavy metal". Note that even without the double quotes, verbatim word matches score higher than their non-verbatim matches. Adding double quotes increases the emphasis on the verbatim matches, as well as treating those words as a phrase.

Currently, searches using quotes will not be expanded by Automated Query Expansion.

Boolean Operators

Everything offers the following Boolean operations: AND, OR, and NOT. The operators must be written in ALL CAPS to ensure that they are interpreted as Boolean operators.

In a query containing multiple Boolean operators, Everything processes the operators sequentially, from left to right, as the operators appear in the query. If a query contains parentheses, operators within parentheses are processed first.

By default, when two or more terms or expressions are adjacent with no intervening Boolean operator, an AND is assumed. For example, if you search for

earthquake fault

you will get the same results when you search for

earthquake AND fault

To expand the results set, use the OR operator “microcircuits OR nanocircuits” which will return items that contain either term.

To search for phrases, enclose the phrase in quotes. For example, if you search for

“teacher education” OR “educator training”

your results will include items that contain either complete phrase.

To exclude items in Everything, use the NOT operator or minus sign “-” character before a term. (no space between minus sign and term) For example, if you search for

“mustang NOT animal”

your query results will not include the term “animal”.

Boolean searching and the Everything relevancy algorithm

Boolean queries get processed by the same relevancy algorithm as any other query. This means relevancy enhancements that come from the application of stemming, character normalization, etcetera will apply in Boolean queries as well.

Applying the relevancy algorithm to Boolean queries is particularly helpful in Boolean searches using multiple search terms. For example:

paint drying time (glass OR wood)

The above Boolean query will provide a small relevancy boost for documents containing the words paint, drying, and time in close proximity to each other, which is a relevancy enhancement that previously did not apply to Boolean queries.

Wildcard Use

Wildcard searches expand a search and will increase the number of results returned. Searches within Everything can be performed using two wildcards: the question mark (?) and the asterisk (*). Wildcards cannot be used as the first character of a search, nor should a wildcard be used within double quotes (phrase searching).

The question mark (?) will match any one character. For example, it can be used to find “Olsen” or “Olson” by searching for


but it will not find Olsson because there are two characters between the "s" and the "n" in that name.

The question mark (?) does not work as a wildcard character at the end of a word. This is to avoid confusion when a question mark is used as a punctuation character. For example, the question mark in a search for 'who's afraid of virginia woolf?' (with or without double quotes) will be interpreted as a punctuation mark, not as a wildcard. In this case, the final term will match "woolf" as most users would expect, not "woolfy" or "woolfs".

The asterisk (*) will match zero or more characters within a word or at the end of a word. A search for


will match "Charter," "Character," and "Chapter"

When used at the end of a word, the asterisk will allow all possible characters to be included so


will match "Temptation", "Temple", and "Temporary".

Note: a wildcard search does not necessarily return more results than the same search without the wildcard. This is because the language-specific search features, such as stemming/lemmatization, synonym mapping and spelling normalization, do not apply to the wildcard search.

For example, a keyword search for archaeology may return more results than the wildcard search for archaeolog*, since the former matches both archaeology and archeology via “Everything's” English spelling normalization feature, but the latter matches only archaeology and not archeology.

Proximity Searching

Proximity searches limit result sets to terms within a specified number of words from each other. To perform a proximity search, enclose your search terms in quotation marks and use the tilde (~) followed by a number indicating the distance you want to allow between the search terms.

For example:

"yeast bread"~10

finds material where "yeast" and "bread" appear within 10 words of each other.

NOTE: proximity searching does not take the order of search terms into account. A search on "boron nanotubes potassium"~6 will yield results in which the three search terms appear in various orders.

Full-Text Proximity

Everything also provides a related feature, full-text proximity. Full-text proximity is automatically applied if there are two or more query terms that are not within a phrase query (in other words, not within quotation marks). To increase search precision on the full-text field, this proximity feature boosts results when all such query terms are within 200 words of each other. (200 words is the typical length of a paragraph.) Note that the full-text proximity feature would be applied to the search on flies sheep dip but the feature would not be applied to a search on flies "sheep dip" because only the one term (flies) is not part of a phrase query.

Searching Specific Fields

The single search box in Everything (basic search box or keyword search box in advanced search) will search across many fields automatically. For example, entering an ISBN, ISSN, or Call Number will bring back associated records.

You can explicitly search a field using the syntax: “field:(query).” For example, the search ISSN:(1234-5678), finds records that contain that value in the ISSN field.

Searchable fields:

  • Author
  • Abstract
  • Call Number
  • Dewey
  • DOI
  • Edition
  • Full Text
  • Genre
  • Geographic Location
  • ISBN
  • ISSN
  • Issue
  • OCLC Number
  • Patent Number
  • Publication Title
  • Publisher
  • Series
  • Subject Terms
  • Time Period
  • Title
  • Volume

Automated Query Expansion

Automated Query Expansion improves search recall by including additional keywords for common topical queries:

Screen Shot of expanded page

How Automated Query Expansion Works

When Everything identifies a relevant topic to display in the Topic Explorer on the right side of the Everything results page, Everything further examines the query to decide to what extent the topic is a precise synonym for the user's search. Topics that meet a level of precision are included in the user's search via the Automated Query Expansion feature.

Everything expands the patron's query to search both the user's search terms and the synonymous topic. This search is a Boolean "OR" search; that is, Everything will return search results that contain either the patron's search term or the synonymous topic (or both). For example, a search on heart attack includes a search on the more official term myocardial infarction, and Everything returns results that contain either or both terms. Note that a search using quotes will not be expanded by Automated Query Expansion.

Above the search-results set the patron is provided with a link to search only the patron's original search terms and hide the automated-expansion results.