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How to Search

There are five search options from which to choose*:

*NOTE: The search options, hints and help for UW System Search apply when searching two or more library catalogs.

Words Anywhere

A Words Anywhere search locates words or phrases anywhere they appear in a record.

To find information about the Internet and privacy, type:

internet privacy

To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks:

"internet privacy"

Use truncation (the ? symbol) to expand your search results:

television violen?

Punctuation marks may be omitted:

"symphony no 39"

Word variations should be searched both ways:

"ocean's 11" or "ocean's eleven"

Note: The rank order of results is determined by a relevancy algorithm. The factors that make a search result rise in the ranking are:

  • location of search terms in specific areas of the record. For example, records with terms appearing in the title will be considered more relevant than those with terms appearing in a series title or subject heading
  • proximity of search terms to each other within the record

For multiple keyword searches:

  • keywords that appear closer together in a record are considered more relevant
  • the relevance algorithm does not take into account the number of occurrences of a search term in a record

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Title Words

A Title Words search will locate words or phrases anywhere they appear in a title. The order in which terms are entered does not matter.

internet privacy

To find exact phrases, place quotation marks around the title:

"hundred years of solitude"

"old man and the sea"

Use truncation (the ? symbol) to expand your search results, if you wish.

graphic? method

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Journal Title Words

A Journal Title Words search will locate words or phrases anywhere they appear in a journal title. The order in which terms are entered does not matter.

psychology developmental

To find exact phrases, place quotation marks around the journal title:

"new england journal of medicine"

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Author Words

An Author Words search locates items by an author. An "author" may be an editor, an association, a company, a conference, a performer, or a governmental agency.

The order in which you enter terms does not matter. Punctuation is not necessary. For more precise results with personal names, however, enter the last name first, and place quotation marks around your terms:

"shakespeare william"

"mitchell joni"

For companies, conferences, and governmental agencies, enter the words in direct order within quotation marks:

"hewlett packard"

"white house conference on aging"

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Subject Heading Words

You may enter authorized subject headings from, for example, the Library of Congress or the National Library of Medicine. The order in which you enter terms does not matter.

Use quotation marks around phrases:

"american literature"

"television advertising"

Note: Searching by subject requires knowledge of authorized subject headings. If your subject search is unsuccessful, begin with a Words Anywhere search instead.

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How to Display/Interpret Results

After clicking on Search, a screen will display the catalogs being searched and the number of records found.

  • To ensure that you are viewing the full list of results, wait until the message Done appears for each catalog and the upper and lower sets of MadCat buttons have displayed.
  • Click Show to view the results.
  • Click on the desired title to view its record display.
  • The record will indicate the UW System library (or libraries) that owns the item and the item's status (Checked Out, Not Checked Out, etc.).

Note: Although there is a Limit Results button for title listings in UW System Search, limits will not work for this type of search.

For information about placing a request from a UW System library, see MadCat Help: UW System Borrowing.

Video Help

A short video tutorial on UW System Search is available here. Flash Content

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