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Searching through these historic documents can be fun, but sometimes you need to retrieve something specific. The Torrance Public Library staff has put together some search strategies to help you get the best results.

Fuzzy Searching

Fuzzy searching will find a word even if it is misspelled. For example, a fuzzy search for apple will find appple. Fuzzy searching can be useful when you are searching text that may contain typographical errors, or for text that has been scanned using optical character recognition (OCR). There are two ways to add fuzziness to searches: 1.

  1. Check the "Fuzzy searching" box to enable fuzziness for all of the words in your search request. You can adjust the level of fuzziness from 1 to 10.

  2. You can also add fuzziness selectively using the % character. The number of % characters you add determines the number of differences found. The position of the % characters determines how many letters at the start of the word have to match exactly. Examples:

    1. ba%nana Word must begin with ba and have at most one difference between it and banana.
    2. b%%anana Word must begin with b and have at most two differences between it and banana.

Stemming

Stemming extends a search to cover grammatical variations on a word. For example, a search for fish would also find fishing. A search for applied would also find applying, applies, and apply. There are two ways to add stemming to your searches:

  1. Check the Stemming box in the search form to enable stemming for all of the words in your search request. Stemming does not slow searches noticeably and is almost always helpful in making sure you find what you want.

  2. If you want to add stemming selectively, add a ~ at the end of words that you want stemmed in a search. Example: apply~

Phonic Searching

Phonic searching looks for a word that sounds like the word you are searching for and begins with the same letter. For example, a phonic search for Smith will also find Smithe and Smythe.

To search for a word phonically, put a # in front of the word in your search request. Examples: #smith, #johnson

You can also check the Phonic searching box in the search form to enable phonic searching for all words in your search request. Phonic searching is somewhat slower than other types of searching and tends to make searches over-inclusive, so it is usually better to use the # symbol to do phonic searches selectively.

Natural Language Searching

A natural language search request is any combination of words, phrases, or sentences. After a natural language search, the software sorts retrieved documents by their relevance to your search request. Weighting of retrieved documents takes into account: the number of documents each word in your search request appears in (the more documents a word appears in, the less useful it is in distinguishing relevant from irrelevant documents); the number of times each word in the request appears in the documents; and the density of hits in each document. Noise words and search connectors like NOT and OR are ignored.

Exact Phrase

Typing keywords into the "with the exact phrase" field will return newspapers containing the phrase exactly as you typed it. This is the equivalent of putting quotation marks around your keywords.

AND connector

Use the AND connector in a search request to connect two expressions, both of which must be found in any document retrieved. For example: apple pie and poached pear would retrieve any document that contains both phrases.

OR Connector

Use the OR connector in a search request to connect two expressions, at least one of which must be found in any document retrieved. For example, apple pie or poached pear would retrieve any document that contained apple pie, poached pear, or both.

NOT Connector

Use NOT in front of any search expression to reverse its meaning. This allows you to exclude documents from a search. Example: apple sauce and not pear

Dates

Date recognition looks for anything that appears to be a date, using English-language months (including common abbreviations) and numerical formats. Examples of date formats that are recognized include: January 15, 2006

To search for a specific date use the following format:

09231962 will bring results for September 23, 1963

W/N Connector

Use the W/N connector in a search request to specify that one word or phrase must occur within N words of the other. For example, apple w/5 pear would retrieve any document that contained apple within 5 words of pear. The following are examples of search requests using W/N:

(apple or pear) w/5 banana

(apple w/5 banana) w/10 pear

(apple and banana) w/10 pear