Search Assist

What To Do?

If you are having trouble finding an item

Sometimes a single keyword or simple list of keywords produces so many results you still have trouble finding the item you are looking for. A single keyword or simple list of keywords can also sometimes return no results.

The following list shows a number of standard search terms to help you locate applicable item descriptions.

Accessories Elements Instruments Scrap
Apparatus Equipment Kits Sets
Articles Fittings Machinery or Machines Shapes
Assemblies Fixtures Material(s) Solutions
Attachments Forms Matter Stock
Blanks Goods Outfits Systems
Compounds Implements Parts Units
Devices Ingredients Preparations Work
If you found too many results

Did you try multiple keywords or a single keyword?

If you tried multiple keywords

Make sure you chose the Every Word option, rather than the Any Word option.

Example: Every Word
The keyword string, electric cable, returns hundreds of articles when you choose Any Word. The same string returns less than a hundred items when you choose Every Word.

If Every Word still returns too many results

Try searching for a specific item in a category by enclosing the keywords in quotes.

Example: "cast aluminum"
The keyword string, cast aluminum, returns more than 50 articles even when you choose Every Word. When you are looking for something cast out of aluminum, but not something cast out of clay, then treated with an aluminum chemical, enclosing the phrase, "cast aluminum", in quotes returns all items that specifically say cast aluminum in the text.

If a phrase enclosed in quotes does not return the item you are looking for

Try looking for a keyword located near another keyword. You specify this by separating the two keywords with w/ followed by the maximum number of words which can separate the two keywords.

Example: cast w/1 aluminum
This returns all items which contain the word cast followed by the word aluminum, plus all items which contain the word aluminum followed by the word cast (plus items which separate those two words with punctuation).

If you tried a single keyword

Try restricting the search by adding a second keyword and choosing the Every Word option, rather than the Any Word option.

If you cannot think of a second keyword, or a second keyword does not return the items you are looking for

Try using wild card characters with a keyword part common to the items you want to find. Typically you will use the * wild card character. This specifies any text (or no text) in the part of the keyword where you place the * character. There are other wild card characters you may want to use in some instances. For a complete list of wild card characters and their meaning, see the special search character and word reference.

Example: nitro*
This returns a list of all the articles containing words beginning with nitro (these are chemicals). You might want to use a wild card in this case, since using the keyword chemical returns too many results, but using each specific chemical name is too time-consuming. The keyword nitro* returns a list of 25 to 50 articles including: Nitrohydrochloric, Nitrosylsulfuric, Carbon dioxide-nitrous oxide mixture, Nitrogen, and Nitrous oxide.

Example: ancho*
This returns a list of all the articles containing words beginning with ancho, including: anchor, anchors, and anchoring (22 index entries).
 Search for Anchor*
 
In this case, if you used ancho, without the wild card character, the search would only return 0 index entries.
Search for Anchor

If you found no results

Check the spelling of all the keywords you used.

If you are searching for an article by number, make sure you typed the correct article number.

If you are searching for an article by product name or by a common nickname

Try searching for a more generic description. For instance, if you used the brand name Lionel as a keyword, and did not find the article you were looking for, try the keywords toy train.

If you used multiple keywords (and all the keywords are spelled correctly)
If you tried an Every Word search

Try an Any Word search. If that returns too many results, try using the word and in addition to the word or to specify multiple combinations of words. (See If you found too many results using Any Word, but too few results using Every Word .)

If you tried using the word and without using the word or

If you used the word and between all the keywords in your search, try deleting the word and, then use an Any Word search.

If that returns too many results, try using the word and in addition to the word or to specify multiple combinations of words. (See If you found too many results using Any Word, but too few results using Every Word.)

If you tried using the word and only between some keywords

Make sure you chose the Any Word option, rather than the Every Word option.

If that returns too many results, try using the word and in addition to the word or to specify multiple combinations of words. (See If you found too many results using Any Word, but too few results using Every Word.)

If you tried using the word or with the word and

Try grouping the keywords with parentheses. Without grouping, you may be asking for a different combination of keywords than you expect. (For examples, see If you found too many results using Any Word, but too few results using Every Word.)

If you found too many results using Any Word, but too few results using Every Word

Try using the word or with the word and to specify multiple combinations of words.

Example:

  • animal or vegetable and oil
  • (animal or vegetable) and oil

These two keyword strings each return all itemsthat contain animal and oil, plus all items that contain vegetable and oil. The order of the words in the search string does not matter. The search string oil and animal or vegetable would return exactly the same list as the two example strings.

When searching for multiple combinations like this it is always a good idea to group the keywords with parentheses.

Example:

  • animal or (vegetable and oil)

This keyword string returns a different list of items than the keyword strings in the previous example. The resulting list contains all items with the word animal, plus all items that contain vegetable and oil.

It is especially important to use parentheses when you use the word or in combination with the word and along with more than three keywords.

Example:

  • (fiber and vegetable) or (cotton and cloth)

This keyword string returns all items that contain fiber and vegetable, plus all items that contain cotton and cloth. Without parentheses, this would return an entirely different list which could be specified as fiber and (vegetable or cotton) and cloth. That search probably would not yield any results.

If you got unexpected results when you tried using the word or with the word and

Try grouping the keywords with parentheses. Without grouping, you may be asking for a different combination of keywords than you expect.

If you found too many results using one keyword, but too few results using another keyword

You can use more keywords or use wild card characters with part of a keyword to narrow your search.

If you use more than one keyword, pay attention to the Any Word and Every Word options. Any Word returns all articles that contain any keyword you specified. Every Word returns only articles that contain all of the keywords you specified.

If multiple keywords do not produce the results you want, see If you found too many results using Any Word but too few results using Every Word. Also, see If you cannot think of a second keyword, or a second keyword does not return the items you are looking for.


See Also