Skip to Main Content

Congressional Help: Search Syntax

Boolean Operators Tip

Singular and plural: The search does not distinguish between plural and singular forms of a word. For example, a search on Treaties will return content containing either Treaties or Treaty.

Case sensitivity: Search terms are not case-sensitive, so words may be entered in upper or lower case.

Phrase Searching

TIP:  To search for a phrase, put the phrase in quotes to retrieve terms together.  For example "debt ceiling" or "gross national product".

Quoted phrase results may bring back results that include the listed stop words (noted below) or plurals.

Unquoted multiple word queries are treated as an AND statement.

Stop Words

The following words (case insensitive) are words that will not generate a search term in keyword searching unless surrounded with quotations:   near,  a,  an,  the, on,  in, *,  ?,  






Replaces a single letter (either within the word or at the end of a word)

     mari?uana =  marijuana and marihuana

     watche? = watches, watched, watcher





Replaces an infinite number of letter following a root word. Use the truncation character at the beginning (left-hand truncation), the end (right-hand truncation), or in the middle of search terms.   

     foreclos* = foreclose, foreclosed, and foreclosure


Boolean Operators and Phrase Searching



Will Find Any Document

Default keyword search connection now uses an implied AND.

Iran Iraq

With both Iran and Iraq in it


All boolean operators  – AND, OR, NOT – in the text box will be considered as Boolean operators unless enclosed in quotation marks. 

Boolean operators may be in upper or lower case.

Iran and Iraq

Iran or Iraq

Iran not Iraq

With both Iran and Iraq in it


With either Iran or Iraq in it


With Iran in it but not Iraq

To look for an exact match for a multi-term phrase enclose all terms in quotation marks.

"Iran and Iraq"

With exact phrase "Iran and Iraq" in it.


To connect a multi-term phrase to another search term via Boolean connecter use quotation marks.

"Iran Contra" AND Iraq

With phrase Iran Contra and the term Iraq in it.



To find a document with words NEAR each other use Iran NEAR/5 Iraq to find the phrase with the words Iran and Iraq within 5 words of each other. For example “The southwest corner of Iran about 120 miles from Iraq.”

The default NEAR value is 100 words.

   TIP:  If you use two more more NEAR operators in the same query, they must be separated by a Boolean operator. For example: 

            (Iran NEAR/5 USA) or (China NEAR/5 Taiwan) and (Petroleum NEAR/3 Spot Market)



Brings back results with the letters in parens in caps.  For example,   ALLCAPS(epa)  brings back results with the three letters EPA in all caps. Ensure that there is no space between the ALLCAPS command and the open parens, i.e. ALLCAPS(idea).

Order of Operands

The query builder works from left to right so any Boolean connectors and other operators are read in that order. 

To create a query nesting ORs and ANDs (etc) to your specifications, use parentheses to group complex search phrases connected with Boolean connectors and other operators.

 (("Iran and Iraq") and (USA NEAR/5 China)) or ((Syria NEAR/3 Hezbollah) and ("Russian Arms Supplies"))

This query asks for documents that have satisfied the conditions in first double parentheses OR have satisfied the conditions within the second set of double parentheses.

Searching for Proper Names

Names may be listed in publications either last name, first name, or first name last name. Follow the guidelines below to obtain the best results when you are searching for a proper name within ProQuest® Congressional:


Searching for first name and last name - middle initial unknown  (first name  NEAR/3 last name)

Example:  To find documents referring to Robert Smith, use this search: (Robert NEAR/3 Smith)

This method ensures comprehensive results and includes variations such as Robert J. Smith; Robert B. Smith;   Robert James Smith; and Smith, Robert J.   (Note:  the middle initial is not specified so could be any letter of the alphabet).


Searching for first name and last name - middle initial known  (first name OR first initial NEAR/3 last name)

Example:  To find documents referring to Mary Jones, use this search: (mary OR m NEAR/3 jones)

This method ensures comprehensive results and includes variations such as Mary J. Jones; M. J. Jones; Mary Jane Jones; Jones, Mary J.; and Jones, M. J.


Some names searched using this pattern will yield irrelevant references in the search results. When this happens,  add additional search terms to decrease the likelihood of irrelevant results. For example, if Mary Jones is a CPA, you could use this search:

(Mary OR M NEAR/3 Jones AND CPA OR C.P.A. OR accountant)

The order of last name and first name may differ. For example, to find documents that contain "R Smith" and "Smith, R", use a proximity connector like NEAR/n.

smith NEAR/2

The presentation of multiple initials may differ. For example: rj smith

would find RJ Smith but not R.J. Smith (with periods) or R J Smith (with spaces). To find all possibilities, use an OR connector:

(rj OR r j OR r.j NEAR/3 smith)

Note: The product interprets the periods in initials as blank spaces.

  • A name may be given with or without middle initials.

    To find articles by Raymond Smith, Raymond J. Smith and Raymond J. A. Smith, use a proximity connector like NEAR/n:

    (raymond NEAR/3 smith)

  • To account for all the possible combinations of name presentation, we recommend a combination of techniques. To find all of the above examples, you could use:

    (smith NEAR/3 ray! OR r)

The Advanced Search form offers an option that assists users in searching for witness names. Select "witness" from the drop-down list and two boxes will display: Last Name and First Name. The search will automatically process the first and last names entered in the separate boxes as a "name NEAR/3 name" search.