Tips for effective searches

You can find what you need more easily when you take full advantage of the search tools provided in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Common ways to focus searches and enhance your search results include adjusting the scope that you want to search, giving intuitive names and paths to content, assigning values to properties, and using property and keyword terms in queries.

In this article


Tips for using the Search box

The Search box that appears near the top of most pages on a SharePoint site is a powerful tool for submitting queries. Here are some handy techniques for using the Search box.

  • Select a search scope    If it is displayed, use the list of scopes beside the Search box to adjust the range of your search. Narrowing the scope of a search lets you focus on likely sources for the information that you need. Instead of searching over a broad scope such as All Sites, try a more specific scope such as This Site or This List.
  • Type words to "find all"    When you type words in the Search box, your search returns content within the chosen scope that contains all of the words that you typed, in any order. For example, to find both words "apples" and "oranges," type apples oranges and click Go SearchButton image .
  • Enclose exact phrases in quotation marks    To find a specific phrase, enclose it in quotation marks ("). For example, if you want to find items that contain a parts order form, type "parts order form" in the Search box. Your search returns content within the chosen scope that contain this exact phrase.
  • Try "Did you mean?" suggestions    The search results page displays a Did you mean? feature above your search results. This feature suggests alternate queries that you can try. Each suggestion is formatted as a link. To search again on an alternate query, just click on it.
  • Append file properties    Use properties to specify the name or type of file to return. For example, if you want to find Microsoft Office Word 2007 files that include the word "schedule," type schedule filetype:docx in the Search box.

 Note   For more information about properties, see the section Tips for using properties.

  • Exclude certain search results    To exclude search results that contain certain terms, use a minus sign (-) before the term that you want to exclude. For example, if you want to find items that include the word "expenses" but do not include the word "taxes," type expenses -taxes in the Search box.

 Note   A query must include at least one term to find. Queries that consist only of terms to exclude will produce an error message.

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Tips for using the Search Center site

To display the Search Center site in Office SharePoint Server 2007, click Search in the navigation links near the top of the site home page. Then select a tab to search for content in specified locations, or to find people.

  • Select a search tab for content    When your Search Center site includes search tabs, click the desired tab to search that location for content, or to search for people. Each tabbed pane displays a Search box, with a Search Results area beneath it.

 Note   Your administrator can add search tabs to a Search Center site.

  • Sort search results    Click View by Modified Date to sort your search results according to how recently each record was modified. Click Results by Relevance to sort your results according to how closely they match your query.

A number of factors determine how the relevance of a result is calculated. For example, an administrator might have configured search to enhance the relevance of results from particular sites, such as team portals.

  • Sort People search results    In Office SharePoint Server, after you select the People tab and search on names or roles, you can click View by Social Distance to sort your search results by the person's distance from you across your organization, and by the connections that you share.

 Tip   Use View by Social Distance to help identify people whose duties within your organization are similar to your own.

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Tips for using properties

As you type queries in the Search box, or on the Search Center site, you can enhance your results by using keyword terms in queries. You can also search on property values, typed in the form property:value.

Content properties and their values are stored when sites are indexed. Some of them might be mapped by your shared services administrator to managed properties that can be used in searches. Those are the properties that you can select from the Pick Property lists in Advanced Search, or that you can type in the form property:value in the Search box.

Enclose a property value in quotation marks to find an exact match, or leave the value unquoted to find partial matches that begin with the letters that you typed. Values are not case-sensitive.

  • Search by filename     If the filename property is available for searches, type filename:"Budget" (with quotation marks) to find a file named "Budget.xlsx," or type filename:budget (without quotation marks) to find both "Budget_Current.xlsx" and "Budget_Next.xlsx."

 Tip   You can also use Advanced Search to search on part of a file name. If the Name property is available from the Pick Property list, search on Name Contains value.

  • Search by file type     Suppose that you are looking for budget spreadsheets that were prepared in Excel 2007. Append filetype:xlsx to your query to display only search results that are Excel 2007 workbooks.
  • Search on different properties    The search service interprets the space between terms that use different properties as an AND. For example, if you search on title:budget filetype:xlsx, your search will return only Excel 2007 workbooks with titles that begin with the word "Budget."

 Note   Enclose values that include spaces in quotation marks. You can also use Advanced Search to search for multiple properties, and to limit results to a certain file type.

  • Search for alternate values for the same property    The search service interprets the space between terms that use the same property as an OR. For example, if you search on author:"Mike Smith" author:"Carol Jones", your search will return items that were created by either person.

If your administrator has mapped properties such as writer or e-mail to the managed property author, your results might also include content that contains these properties.

  • Exclude property values    To exclude content that is marked with a certain property value, use a minus sign (-) before the name of the property.

For example, if a technology property is available for searches, append -technology:mobile to your query to exclude content about mobile technologies from your search results.

 Note   A query must include at least one term to find. Queries that consist only of terms to exclude will produce an error message.

  • Focus on a particular server    If the site property is available for searches, you can append site:servername to your query to focus your search on content that is stored on a particular server.

 Note   Backslash characters (\) do not work in queries. Therefore, do not use backslashes for a server path when you type the site:\\servername.

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Tips for Advanced Search

To display the Advanced Search page, click the Advanced Search link next to the Search box. You can use Advanced Search to perform a logical search on words or phrases, and to narrow search results by language, format, or property.

  • Include or exclude words    Under the Find documents with heading, you can choose to match all or any of the words that you type, and to include or exclude the content that is found.
  • Narrow results to certain languages    Under the Narrow the search heading, select any of the check boxes next to the phrase Only the language(s) to narrow your search results to content that is written in the languages indicated.
  • Show only results of a certain type    Use the Result type list to narrow your search results from All Results to Documents, Word Documents, Excel Documents, or to Presentations.
  • Search on properties    To find content marked with certain property values, use the fields beside the heading Where the Property. You can choose to match part or all of a property value, and to include or exclude the content that is found.
  • Search on multiple properties    Choose the value of your first property and then click Add Property to search on more than one property, or on another value for the same property. For example, a search on the following properties:
Title Contains Project And
Description Contains Current
  • returns content that includes both "Project" in its Title and "Current" in its Description. If you change the logical operator to Or, your results will then expand to include any content that has either "Project" in its Title or "Current" in its Description.
  • Search by date    If you select a date property, such as Created Date or Last Modified Date, the choices for logical operator become Equals, Earlier than, or Later than. Type the date value in the form mm/dd/yyyy. For example, use these values
Last Modified Date Later than 05/01/2007
  • to search for content that has changed since May 1, 2007.

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Tips for improving search results

Searches work best when all of those who administer, organize, and query online content in your organization collaborate to improve search results. Here are some examples of actions that you can take to improve search results within your organization.

  • Update your user profile page    Within Office SharePoint Server, go to the My Profile tab of My Site, click Edit Details, and update your user profile. Fill in values for any properties that you can edit, such as your personal description and contact information. This will help other people in your organization to find you and identify the content that you create.
  • Use names that others can identify    Use intuitive document titles, file names, and folder paths that help to identify the subject of your content. For example, when posting the schedule for an upcoming move on your team's Web site, give the page a clear title, such as Team Move Schedule, and post it at a location that is easy to remember, such as http://oursite/schedules.
  • Assign property values to your content    You can find content by author, title, or other properties only if values for those properties are assigned to content items by their owners. When you add content, assign values to the properties that are commonly used in searches, such as Author, Title, Description, and Technology.

 Tip   Owners of document libraries can define content types that require users to enter values for particular properties as they check in files.

  • Ask for properties to use in searches    When content is indexed for searching, its properties and their values are stored as well. Your administrator can map content properties to managed properties that you can select in Advanced Search, or that you type manually in the Search box.

This enables you to search across site collections using standard property names, no matter how particular site collections or data sources might name the properties that they assign to content. (The administrative task of mapping properties can enhance your search results in this way.)

  • Ask for custom scopes    If your organization or team frequently runs queries on certain sites or servers, or uses content marked with certain property values, ask your administrator to define scopes that focus on those resources. Then ask the owners of the Web sites that you use most often to list those scopes next to the Search boxes on their pages.

 Note   A site collection administrator can modify and add scopes, and arrange scopes in display groups. Site owners can then edit instances of the Search Box Web Part on their pages, and assign a display group to populate their scope lists that includes the desired scopes.

  • Suggest keywords and Best Bets    When you include a keyword or one of its synonyms in a query, your search results page displays the definition of that keyword and its Best Bet links in a featured area next to the search results. As your administrator continues to add keywords, they can become an interactive glossary of terms that point you toward recommended sources of content, and help you to find and understand complex documents.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Server 2007