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U.K. Parliamentary Papers

Search Tips, Boolean Operators, & Commands


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).

Boolean Operators

Operator Description Example
AND Look for documents that contain all of your words or phrases.
Use AND to narrow your search and get fewer results.
food AND nutrition
OR Look for documents that contain any of your words or phrases.
Use OR to broaden your search and get more results.
food OR nutrition
NOT Look for documents that contain one of your search terms, but not the other.  nursing NOT shortage


Case sensitivity

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


To find a document with words NEAR each other use school NEAR/5 healthy to find the phrase with the words school and healthy within 5 words of each other. For example “The schools are required to provide healthy alternatives to junk food."

The default NEAR value is 100 words. So if you search for school NEAR/ healthy the search engine will look for the words within 100 words of each other.

TIP: If you use two or more NEAR operators in the same query, they must be separated by a Boolean operator. For example:
(healthy NEAR/5 kids) or (school NEAR/5 lunches) and (junk NEAR/3 foods)

Phrase Searching

To search for a phrase, put the phrase in quotes to retrieve terms together.  For example "First Amendment" or "gross national product".

Quoted phrase results may bring back results that include noise words or plurals.

Unquoted multiple word queries (no connectors) are treated as an AND statement. So Cat Dog is processed as Cat AND Dog.


The search engine ignores characters such as periods, commas, and colons — in your search terms.

Some special characters  are always going to be interpreted in the context of specific kinds of searching:

  • Brackets and parentheses  are used to build 'nested' queries. For example:
    cow AND (dog OR cat)
    If you use them with any other intent, your search is unlikely to retrieve what you expected.
  • The slash (/) is reserved for use with proximity operators, as in NEAR/4.

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.

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, *,  ?.


?   - The question mark replaces a single letter either within the word,or at the end of a word.

     mari?uana = marijuana and marihuana
     watche? = watches, watched, watcher

*   -  The asterisk 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
     re*ding= reading or regarding

Word variants 

To retrieve only a particular variant of a word, such as colour but not color, enter the word in quotation marks in the search box.  For example: "colour"

How searches are interpreted

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.

How ProQuest interprets your search

You can search by entering words into a search box without specifying search fields. When you do ProQuest will retrieve documents containing all your search terms, appearing in any field (document titles, authors, subjects, full text, etc.).

For example, a search on healthy eating is the same as a search for healthy AND eating. The search will not retrieve results with just the word healthy or just the word eating. ProQuest will look for the terms healthy and eating in all fields.