Connectors: Reference Guide
Related Topics:
Building a Search String
How to Use the Search Forms
User Scenarios
How Do I...?  (FAQs)

Use connectors between terms in a search string to generate more precise search results. Click any of the links below to view instructions and examples.

See the following sections:

 

Using Connectors

AND

Finds documents that contain all search words or phrases linked by the AND connector. It doesn’t matter how close or far apart the words or phrases are within the document. Adding AND to a search generally reduces the number of records retrieved.

Example:

bank AND deregulate

AND NOT

Eliminates from search results documents in which the word or phrases after AND NOT appear anywhere in the document.

Example:

taxation AND NOT estate

OR

Finds documents that contain all, some, or any of the words or phrases in the search string.  Use this connector to link synonyms, antonyms, alternatives, or abbreviations. Adding OR to a search generally increases the number of records retrieved.

Examples:

attorneys OR lawyers

employment OR unemployment

PRE/n

Finds documents in which the first search word precedes the second by not more than the stated number of words.  N may represent any number up to 255. Use PRE/n in situations where the word order of terms is important. An example of a situation in which you might want to use PRE/n is when you want to search on a particular act name, but only have a partial citation.

Example:

Emergency PRE3/ Act

finds “Staffing for Adequate fire and Emergency Response Act,” “Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act,” “National Emergencies Act, etc.”

Tip:  In a Congressional Record search, do a PRE/n  search using a speaker’s name connected to a topic, for example:  Collins pre/255 homeland security

W/n (within number of words), NOT W/n

Finds documents that contain search words or phrases within a certain number (N) of words or each other without specifying word order. N may represent any number up to 255. Using the W/N connector will help you focus your search on the most relevant documents.  Use the W/3 connector between first and last names to retrieve search results that take into account middle names, middle initials, and inverted name order.  The W/N connector is also especially helpful when searching full text.

The NOT W/N connector finds documents in which search term is found and excludes from that results set documents in which the second word occurs within a specified number of words of the first word.

Example - W/n:

Thomas w/2 Edison

 finds “Thomas Edison”, “Edison, Thomas,” “Thomas A. Edison,” and “Thomas Alva Edison”

Example - NOT W/n:

Mexico NOT W/2 New

Tip:  If you are searching for a phrase that contains the word “and,” omit the word and from your search and use W/1 as a connector because the word “and” is recognized as the connector AND.  For example:  Lewis w/1 Clarke

More Tips:  

W/p (within paragraph), NOT W/para

Use W/p to find documents in which your search words appear within the same paragraph.

Use NOT W/para to find documents in which search terms both appear, but not within the same paragraph.

Use these connectors in Congressional Record and Political news searches; they may not work as expected in other searches.

Example:

Pelosi w/p Iraq

W/s (within sentence), NOT W/sent

Use W/s to find documents in which your words appear within the same sentence.

Use NOT W/sent to find documents in which search terms appear, but not within the same sentence.

Use these connectors in Congressional Record and Political news searches; they may not work as expected in other searches.

Example:

Hastert w/s Iraq

 

Using Precision Commands

ALLCAPS

Find documents that contain words in which all letters are capitalized.

Example:

allcaps (era)

finds “Economic Regulatory Administration (ERA)” and the “Equal Rights Amendment”

Tip: Remember that for data in segments that display text in all capitals, this command will not work.

ATLEASTn

Find documents that require a word or words to appear at least so many times (n) in a document.   You may use any number up to 255. This command may be useful when searching full text, but will not be very useful for searches that exclude full-text because all words in the non-full-text search are highly relevant.

Example:

atleast10(Patriot Act)

Tip: Results of the full-text search on the Advanced Search form have a sort by relevance option that will usually produce more targeted results than the ATLEAST command.

CAPS, NOCAPS

Use CAPS to find documents that contain words in which one or more of the letters are capitalized; use NOCAPS to find documents that contain words in which none of the letters are capitalized.

Example - CAPS:

caps (fox)

finds “Vincente Fox” and “Twentieth Century Fox”

Example - NOCAPS:

nocaps (fox)

finds “the fox in the hen house” and “fox hunting”

Tip: Remember that the NOCAPS search will fail to retrieve words at the beginning of a sentence, in titles, or in other situations where initial capitalization occurs.

PLURAL, SINGULAR

Use this command to override default search which automatically retrieves search words with singular, regular, plural, and possessive endings.  To further refine search, combine CAPS and PLURAL commands.

Examples of searched involving acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and U.S. Agency for International Development (AID):

plural (AIDS)

finds “AIDS and “aids”

allcaps (plural (aids))

finds “AIDS”

singular (AID)

finds "AID” and “aid”

allcaps (singular (AID))

finds "AID”

Tip: On the Basic or Advanced Search form, as an alternative to using PLURAL or SINGULAR connectors, try using the Index Term Look-Up Tool.  In the case of AIDS, the tool will suggest a search on “acquired immune deficiency syndrome”.

 

Connector Order and Priority

Connectors operate in the following order of priority:

  1. OR
  2. W/n, PRE/n, NOT W/n
  3. W/s
  4. NOT W/sent
  5. W/p
  6. NOT W/para
  7. AND
  8. AND NOT
Tips: