Search Hints

Search is simple: just type whatever comes to mind in the search box, hit Enter or click the Search button, and the search engine will search our site for content that's relevant to your search.

Most of the time, you'll find exactly that you're looking for with just a basic query (the word or phrase you search for). However, the following tips can help you make the most of your searches.

Some basic facts

* Every word matters. Generally, all the words you put in the query will be used.

* Search is always case insensitive. A search for [ john deere ] is the same as a search for [ John Deere ].

Tips for better searches

* Keep it simple. If you're looking for a particular manufacturer, just enter its name, or as much of its name as you can recall. Most queries do not require advanced operators or unusual syntax. Simple is good.

* Describe what you need with as few terms as possible. The goal of each word in a query is to focus it further. Since all words are used, each additional word limits the results. If you limit too much, you will miss a lot of useful information. The main advantage to starting with fewer keywords is that, if you don't get what you need, the results will likely give you a good indication of what additional words are needed to refine your results on the next search.

* Choose descriptive words. The more unique the word is the more likely you are to get relevant results.

* Exact Phrase search ("")
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling the search engine to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. the search engine already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Alexander Bell" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.

* The OR operator
The search engine's default behavior is to consider all the words in a search. If you want to specifically allow either one of several words, you can use the OR operator (note that you have to type 'OR' in ALL CAPS). For example, [ Dodge Dakota 2004 OR 2005 ] will give you results about either one of these years, whereas [ San Francisco Giants 2004 2005 ] (without the OR) will show pages that include both years on the same page. The symbol | can be substituted for OR. (The AND operator, by the way, is the default, so it is not needed.)


* Words that are commonly used, like 'the,' 'a,' and 'for,' are usually ignored (these are called stop words). But there are even exceptions to this exception.

* A particular word might not appear on a page in your results if there is sufficient other evidence that the page is relevant.

Punctuation that is not ignored

* The dollar sign ($) is used to indicate prices. [ nikon 400 ] and [ nikon $400 ] will give different results.

* The hyphen - is sometimes used as a signal that the two words around it are very strongly connected. (Unless there is no space after the - and a space before it, in which case it is a negative sign.)

Is the USDA doing enough to accommodate small-scale direct-marketers of meat?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

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10/2/2014 | Last Updated: 1:15 AM