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Search Tips


Getting Started with Search

To search for a document, type a few descriptive words in the search box, and press the Enter key or click the search button. A results page appears with a list of results related to your search terms. To broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms. You do not need to include "and" between the terms. For example, to search for promising initiatives pdf documents, type the following:

promising initiatives file format: pdf


Searches are not case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are handled as lower case. For example, searches for "george washington," "George Washington," and "George washington" return the same results.

Common Words

Because they tend to slow down your search without improving the results, Google Custom Search Engine ignores some terms, including common words and characters, such as "where" and "how" when used in conjunction with other search terms.

If a common word is essential to getting the results you want, use quotation marks. For example, to search for the phrase police who enclose in quotes. Type "police who" into the search box.

Date Sort

By default, results are sorted by relevance, with the most relevant result appearing at the top of the page. If you want to sort by date instead, click the dropdown to the right of Sort by: and select Date. The most recent result appears at the top of the page and the date is returned in the results. Results that do not contain dates are displayed at the end and are sorted by relevance.


When you search for numbers, do not use exponential numbers, such as "1e10," or negative integers, such as "-12."

Numbers that are separated by commas are treated as separate figures, not fractional numbers; that is, the comma is treated as a term separator, not a decimal separator. For example, if you type "3,75", the search query is treated as a search for two separate terms, "3" and "75", not the decimal fraction, "three and three quarters." Commas that separate every three digits are ignored and are not necessary. For example, both "10,000" and "10000" are treated alike.

Widening Your Search

You can expand your search by using the OR operator. To retrieve pages that include either word A or word B, use an uppercase OR between terms. For example, to search for cyber crime or hate crime, type the following:

cyber OR hate crime

The pipe (|) operator can also be used in place of “OR.”. For example, to search for a publication for either Corrections or Prosecutions, type the following:

publication corrections | prosecution

The parenthesis ( ) operator can also be used to Group multiple terms or search operators to control how the search is executed. For example, to search for state law enforcement or local law enforcement, type the following:

(state OR local) law enforcement

Refining Your Search

Refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. The refined query returns a subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query. If that does not get the results that you want, you can also exclude words.

If your search term has more than one meaning, you can focus your search by adding a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign. You can daisy chain a list of words you want to exclude.

For example, to search for crime but exclude results with property or drugs, type the following query:

crime -property -drugs

Advanced Search Operators

Advanced operators are query words that restrict your search to a smaller set of results. When you enter your search query, do not add a space between the search operator and the search terms.

Search Operator Description Example
filetype: Restricts the search to specific file types such as Excel spreadsheets, PDF files, or Word documents. Type the filetype: operator followed by the file extension. Typing awards filetype:pdf in the search box returns only PDF files about awards.

Restricts the search to results that contain the search word in the titles or body text of the documents.

Typing intext:programs returns results that mention the word "programs" in their title or body text.


Restricts the search to results that contain the search word in the HTML title.

Typing intitle:programs victims returns documents that mention the word "programs" in their HTML title, and mention the word "victims" in the title, body text, anchor, or anywhere else in the document.


Restricts the search to results that contain the search word in the URL.

Typing inurl:about/ocr civil rights in the search box returns results that include "about/ocr" in their URL and mention "civil rights" in the URL, body text, title, or anywhere else.


Restricts the search to results in a website.

The site: operator lets you extend the search restriction down to directories.

Typing funding site:www.ojp.gov in the search box returns results about funding within www.ojp.gov.

Typing funding site:ojp.gov in the search box finds results within all websites that end in ojp.gov.

wildcard: Typing * can return advanced results. This is useful for when you do not know the exact phrase or wish to see results that match a pattern.

Typing nij-2020-* matches any results that begin with the letters "nij-2020-".

Typing *ment matches any words that end with the letters "ment".

Typing *2020* matches any results that contain the sequence "2020" anywhere in the phrase.


Date Created: June 4, 2020