Sometimes searches can bring back large numbers of results – or none at all, if you’ve been very specific! – so to help you navigate our online catalogue more effectively we thought we’d highlight some basic operators you can add to your searches and the effect they’ll have on your results.
First up is AND, which we can use to narrow searches down. Using AND between two search terms means both must be present in order to appear in your results.
Searching for tile returns 121 catalogue records; searching for tile AND campbell returns 55 records.
tile AND campbell arnoux AND solon china AND earthenware
OR can be used to widen your search by looking for alternatives. Using OR between two search terms means searching for either of the terms you’ve supplied, and you can continue adding terms to further broaden your results. OR arguments are usually wrapped in parentheses to ensure they work properly.
Searching for majolica returns 69 catalogue records; searching for (majolica OR maiolica) returns 70 records.
(majolica OR maiolica) (arnoux OR solon OR boullemier) (factory OR manufactory)
Use NOT to exclude records from your results. Using NOT between two search terms means searching for your first term, but ignoring results which also include your second term.
Searching for book returns 860 catalogue records; searching for book NOT pattern returns 302 records.
book NOT pattern drawings NOT folio comolera NOT peacock
Adding an asterisk at the end of a word is like leaving it open for the search engine to finish (with as many letters as it likes). An asterisk can help with plurals – searching for wage* returns both “wage” and “wages” – but bear in mind that any word starting with “wage” will be returned, so the usefulness of your results can vary.
Similarly, searching for photo* would return lots of photography-related records… but it would also return records about photosynthesis, photovoltaic cells and photons too!
wage* photo* ornament*
You can also use an asterisk to search for specific documents in the collection. Minton Archive finding numbers always follow the SD 1705/MSxxxx format, but here on the website you can simply use the MS number by itself, prefixed by an asterisk.
*MS1739 *MS2524 *MS4506
“” (Quotation marks)
Quotation marks are used to search for an exact phrase in the catalogue – without these, the search engine will split the phase up and look for each word individually.
Searching for Great Exhibition returns 142 catalogue records; searching for “Great Exhibition” returns 12 records.
"Great Exhibition" "Bottle Kiln" "Mintons Patent Ovens"
These basic search operators can be used in combination with each other to help you get the most out of your searches. Below are a few examples of how you can use more than one operator at a time – it doesn’t take long to build two or three operators into one search string and (hopefully) find exactly what you were looking for!
book NOT (pattern OR crest OR ornament) share* NOT transfer folio AND boullemier NOT cupid* exhibition AND ("dessert service" OR (Queen AND Victoria)) ("Woodseat" OR Rocester) NOT debentures