SharePoint utilizes many of the same search features as other databases. This document provides information about the different search boxes used in SharePoint: Search this site and Find a file. And, it explores the following search strategies: Double quotes, Boolean Operators, and Truncation.
In SharePoint, there are two principal search boxes. These are similar but work slightly differently.
- Search this Site
- Find a File
Search this Site
Search this site is found in the upper right-hand corner of all CSC SharePoint sites. This function searches the individual site. For example, if you use this search box when you are in the Faculty Senate site, it will search all of the files in the Faculty Senate site. In other words, it will search the document libraries for Constitution, By-Laws, Minutes, all of the Standing Committees, etc. Below is an illustration of the Search this site box:
Search this site is similar to a normal search engine in that it utilizes algorithms to find your results; thus, it has a strong relevancy ranking. SharePoint will determine which documents it thinks are most helpful and return these at the top of the list.
Find a File
To search a specific document library, use the Find a file function. The advantage of this function is it allows you to drill down into specific folders. But there’s also a disadvantage: The search is based simply on keywords; it doesn’t provide a relevancy ranking. This means that you may get some irrelevant results. Below is an illustration of the Find a file search box in the Essential Studies document library, which is part of the overarching Faculty Senate site.
Several basic database search strategies may be used within SharePoint. These include:
Double quotes. Use double quotes around an item if you want to search for a specific phrase or concept. For example, if you want to make sure that you retrieve all documents that have the exact phrase Higher Learning Commission, you should put the phrase in quotes, like this: “Higher Learning Commission.”
Boolean Operators. SharePoint allows the Boolean Operators AND, OR, and NOT so that you may broaden or narrow your search results. It is necessary to capitalize these operators when performing a search. Here is how each Boolean operator works:
- AND = Both words must be found in your search. This is great for linking two concepts you are researching. For example, if we wanted to look for documents that discussed retention among graduate students, you could do a search for graduate AND retention.
- OR = Either word can be found in your search. This is best for like concepts, as your search will bring back results with either word, for example: college OR university.
- NOT = Will exclude one of the words from your search. For example, Coffee NOT Pavilion. You need to be very careful when using NOT because if the word appears anywhere in the document, your search will exclude that document from your results. Hence, you could miss out on some important documents.
Truncation. Truncation is helpful when you want to search various iterations of a term. For example, searching Educat* will return Educate, Education, Educated, Educator, Educators, Educational, Educating, etc.
Example 1: Mexico
If you wanted to search the Research Institute files to see if any studies of Mexico were proposed, you can do a truncation search for Mexic*. This ensures results for both Mexico and Mexican.
In SharePoint, this search retrieves results from two documents:
- Discussion Topic: Robert Knight – Agenda Setting in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies
- “Presidential Leadership, Multiparty Coalitions, and Reforms under Divided Government: Mexico since Democratization,” by R. Knight.
If you had just searched for Mexico, you would have missed out on the first result.
Example 2: Combining Search Strategies
SharePoint also allows for multiple search tools at the same time. In the example below, double quotes are used to search for an exact phrase, as well as a Boolean operator to search for like concepts.
As with all research, the key is to explore different search terms until you receive optimal results. It might require some trial and error to yield the proper documents.