Searching can sometimes be made to feel like a very complicated thing.

In reality, it's easy: just do what you want and see what happens.

This page is designed for anyone who wants a little more technical background on how the search functions work. The detail below tells you more, and might also help you if you are not finding what you expect.

Quick Search
The Quick Search is accessed via the search box in the top right hand corner of the page.

By default, the Quick Search will search only two fields in the catalogue: Title and Description. Title is what we've called the item; description tells you more about what it contains.

If you enter more than one search term, the Quick Search looks for what is called an AND search. This means it looks for records where all the terms are found together.

This is by far the easiest way of searching. However, there are more complex ways of using the Quick Search tool and these are outlined below.

Firstly, you may wish to combine search terms in your simple searches. The Quick Search allows you to do so by employing what is known as Boolean searching.

George Boole used algebra in the field of logic. Boolean searching uses 'and', 'or' and 'not' to ask computer programmes to search in a particular way.

+ represents Boolean And, meaning the search result must include this word
- represents Boolean Not, meaning the search result must exclude this word
| represents Boolean Or, meaning the search result may include this word

Place one of these symbols before a word or phrase to apply it. If no symbols are used, the Boolean "And" will be assumed by the search.

Here is an example:

Railway - Station

searches all configured fields for the word 'Railway' and excludes any records with the word 'Station' from the Search results.

There are also other ways of deciding how a Quick Search works. For example, typing a specific field name followed by a colon, followed by a search term, means only that particular field will be searched for the term.

For example:


Searches for the word 'Railway' in the Title field only, whereas:


Searches all configured fields for the word 'Railway'.

You have to be very specific if you are using this type of search. For example:

Title:Railway Station

Searches for records which have the word 'Railway' in the Title field and the word 'Station' in any configured field, rather than both terms in the Title field only. To search for both terms in the title field, use double quotation marks around the terms to look for the matching phrase.

For example:

"Railway Station"

Searches all configured fields only for the exact phrase 'Railway Station' i.e. the two words together with a space between, in the specified order.


Railway Station

searches all configured fields for the words 'Railway' and 'Station' anywhere i.e. not necessarily next to each other or in the specified order.

Please note that due to technical limitations, it is not possible to include a date range as part of a Quick Search. To add dates, use an Advanced Search instead.

Advanced Search
You may actually find that, rather than trying to give complex instructions to the Quick Search, it is easier to use the Advanced Search.

Unlike the Quick Search, a complex Advanced Search does not require you to enter command syntax such as the Boolean symbols or to specify field names.

Follow the on-screen annotations next to and inside the search entry boxes. These provide guidance on performing searches for records containing all the words entered, records containing at least one of the words entered or records without the words entered.

By default, the Boolean "And" is assumed, for example if you enter Train in the Title field and Station in the Description field, only records containing both 'Train' and 'Station' (in the respective fields) will be found, records containing just one of these words will not be shown in the search results.

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