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The Basic Search

To enter a query, type in a few descriptive words and press the Enter key (or Return key, on Macintosh) or click the Search button for a list of relevant results.

MLA Site Search uses sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are important and are relevant to your search. For instance, MLA Site Search analyzes not only the candidate page but also the pages linking into it to determine the value of the candidate page for your search. MLA Site Search also prefers pages in which your query terms are near each other.

Spelling

A single spelling suggestion is returned with the results when the spelling checker detects a possible spelling mistake in your query.

The spelling checker is context-sensitive. For example, if the query submitted is "word literature," "world literature" is suggested as an alternative query. However, no alternative query is suggested for "word meaning." The spelling checker supports only United States English.

Synonyms

Words whose meanings are the same as or similar to that of your query are sometimes displayed after "You could also try..." on the results page.

Sorting by Date

The Sort by Date feature presents your search results in reverse chronological order. The date of each file is stated in the results. Results that do not contain dates are displayed at the end, sorted by relevance.

Automatic "And" Queries

By default, MLA Site Search only returns pages that include all your search terms. There is no need to include "and" between terms. For example, to search for documents on second language acquisition, enter

To broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms.

"OR" Searches

MLA Site Search supports the logical "OR" operator. To retrieve pages that include either one of two words, use an uppercase "OR" between the terms. For example, to search for documents on Latino or Latina studies, enter

Excerpts Shown in the Results

Every search result lists at least one excerpt from the Web page to display how your search terms are used on that page. In the excerpt, your search terms are in bold text so that you can quickly determine if you want to visit the page.

Capitalization Not Significant

Searches are not case-sensitive. For example, searches for "james russell lowell," "James Russell Lowell," and "James russell lowell" all return the same results.

Wildcards and Stemming

To provide the most accurate results, MLA Site Search does not use "stemming" or support wildcard searches. Rather, MLA Site Search seeks exactly the words that you enter into the search box.

For example, searching for "priz" or "priz*" will not yield "prize" or "prizes." If in doubt, try both forms: "prize" and "prizes."

Refining Your Search

Since MLA Site Search only returns Web pages that contain all the words in your query, refining or narrowing your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you already entered. The refined query returns a specific subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query.

Excluding Words

You can exclude a word from your search by putting a minus sign ("-") immediately in front of the term you want to exclude. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign.

For example, the following query will find pages that include "Shakespeare" but not "sonnets."

Phrase Searches

You can search for phrases by adding quotation marks. Words enclosed in double quotation marks ("like this") appear together in all returned documents.

Certain characters serve as phrase connectors. Like quotation marks, phrase connectors join search words. For example, the query below is treated as a phrase search even though the words are not enclosed in quotation marks:

MLA Site Search recognizes hyphens, slashes, periods, equal signs, and apostrophes as phrase connectors.

Restricted Searches

You may also narrow searches by restricting queries in certain ways.

Restriction Query Syntax Example
URL or page title allinurl; allintitle; inurl; intitle allinurl:MLA
See Advanced Operators for details.
specific domain site: site:mla.org
See Advanced Operators for details.
specific file types, like Excel spreadsheets or PDF documents filetype: filetype:pdf

Directory Restricting

To restrict the directories searched, enter a URL that drills down through the directory structure to the directories or files to be searched. For example, the query mla.org/jil/ restricts the search to everything at the JIL level. If the trailing slash is not included, as in mla.org/jil, then all subdirectories are also searched.

Advanced Operators

MLA Site Search supports several advanced operators, which are query words with special functions. A list of the advanced operators with explanation are provided below.

cache:
The search engine keeps the text of the documents it indexes available in a backed-up format known as "cache." A cached version of a Web page can be retrieved if the original page is unavailable (for example, if the page's server is down). The cached page appears exactly as it looked when the search engine last indexed it and includes a message (at the top of the page) to indicate that it's a cached version of the page.

The query cache: followed by a URL shows the cached version of the page. For instance, cache:www.mla.org shows the cached version of the MLA's home page.

There should be no space between cache: and the URL in the query.

If you include other words in the query, they will be highlighted in the cached document. For instance, cache:www.mla.org press releases shows the cached content with the words "press" and "releases" highlighted.

info:
The query info: followed by a URL returns all information available for that URL. For instance, info:www.mla.org shows information about the MLA home page. There should be no space between info: and the URL.

site:
If you include site: followed by a domain name in your query, the results are restricted to the Web sites in the given domain. For instance, help site:mla.org finds pages about help within mla.org. There should be no space between site: and the domain.

link:
The query link: followed by a URL finds all pages that link to the given site. To do this, use the syntax link:sampledomain.com in the search box. (You may not specify other search terms when using this special query.)

For example, to find pages linked to Stanford University's main page, enter

allintitle:
If you start a query with allintitle:, the results are restricted to documents with all the query words in the document's HTML title. For example, allintitle: MLA search only returns documents that have both "MLA" and "search" in the HTML title.

intitle:
If you include intitle: followed by a word in your query, the search is restricted to documents containing that word in the HTML title. For example, intitle:MLA search returns documents that mention the word "MLA" in their HTML title and mention the word "search" anywhere in the document, either in the title or elsewhere.

There should be no space between intitle: and the following word.

Putting intitle: in front of every word in your query is equivalent to putting allintitle: at the front of your query. For example, intitle:MLA intitle:search is the same as allintitle: MLA search.

allinurl:
If you start a query with allinurl:, the search is restricted to results with all the query words in the URL. For example, allinurl: MLA search returns only documents that have both "MLA" and "search" in the URL.

Note that allinurl: ignores punctuation. Thus, allinurl: foo/bar restricts the results to pages with "foo" and "bar" in the URL but doesn't require that they be separated by a slash, be adjacent, or be in that order.

inurl:
If you include inurl: followed by a word in your query, the results are restricted to documents containing that word in the URL. For example, inurl:MLA search returns documents that mention the word "MLA" in their URL and mention the word "search" anywhere in the document, either in the URL or elsewhere.

There should be no space between inurl: and the following word.

Note that inurl: ignores punctuation. Thus, in the query inurl:foo/bar, the inurl: operator affects only "foo." The query inurl:foo inurl:bar can be used to require both "foo" and "bar" to be in the URL.

Putting inurl: in front of every word in your query is equivalent to putting allinurl: at the front of your query. For example, inurl:MLA inurl:search is the same as allinurl: MLA search.

 

© 2014 Modern Language Association. Last updated 09/26/2006.