Not getting the search results you’re looking for in SharePoint?

Sometimes when you’re searching for information, you don’t quite get the results you expect. We’ve put together some tips to help you fine-tune your SharePoint search results.



No results or too few results?

If you get no results when you’re searching for information, even if you've spelled all words correctly, try to widen the search to include more results:

  • Check that you're searching across all relevant content, and that you haven’t restricted the search to only portions of the content, such as People or Videos.
  • Use fewer search terms. For example, use “report” instead of “sales report”.
  • Use more general search terms. For example, use “computer” or “PC” instead of “laptop”.
  • Use the * character as a wildcard at the end of any word in your query. For example, "micro*" finds documents that contain "Microsoft" or "microchip".
  • Is the content searchable? If the content is brand new, the search system may not have picked it up yet. Wait a few minutes and try again. If that doesn't help, check with the site administrator to make sure that the content hasn't been excluded from search, and that you have permission to view it.

These tips may also do the trick if you get few results. After widening the search, use refiners to limit the results to find the exact result you're looking for.

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Too many results?

If you're drowning in a sea of search results, and you can't find what you want even after using refiners to limit the number of results, try Advanced Search to make a more specific query.

Use the Advanced Search page to find information that contains or excludes specific words or phrases, or limit search results by language or by result type. You can even search within specific document properties, such as "Author contains John Doe."

If you're an expert search user, you can skip the Advanced Search page, and use Keyword Query Language (KQL) to enter advanced queries directly in the search box, like this:

("wind farms" OR "solar panels") AND (title:"innovations" OR title:"technologies")

The Keyword Query Language (KQL) Syntax Reference article has details about how to write valid KQL queries.

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Using the proper syntax?

If you get no results, and an error message tells you to make sure you’re using the proper syntax, the search system interprets your search as a KQL query, but finds that there's something wrong with the syntax.

Check that you're using the right syntax, and particularly the right number of parentheses and double quotation marks.

If you want to search for a phrase that contains a parenthesis or double quotation mark, make sure that you enclose the entire phrase (including the parenthesis or double quotation mark) in double quotation marks.

The Keyword Query Language (KQL) Syntax Reference article has details about how to write valid KQL queries.

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Applies to:
SharePoint admin center, SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E1 & E2), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Small Business, SharePoint Online Small Business, SharePoint operated by 21Vianet - admin center, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013 Standard