Skip to main content
Michigan State University

Search Tip Sheet for Times Digital Archive: TRUNCATION AND SEARCH TIPS

This is search tips sheet for use with the Times Digital Archive, the major English newspaper.


* At end of word to retrieve infinite number of additional letters

? One or more question marks replace one or more letters at end or in middle of word. Useful to handle American vs. British spelling variations.

! Replaces one or no characters to retrieve plurals but not –ing, -ed, etc.

Punctuation important to include in search: periods after initial articles (although not after 1960s; it’s all mixed up); hyphen in compound name; ampersand in company name; apostrophe in name. Examples: B.B.C; Sackville-West; Tate & Lyle; St. Paul’s

Do not make your search too specific at the outset. Best to begin broadly and use the modify feature.

Proximity searching only used in searching the indexes composed of individual words, such as title index. Most useful in searching abstract or entire text.

Relevance search uses “ “, + and –, not boolean logic. Quotation marks retrieve a phrase, + matches must contain the word preceding the plus sign. Hyphen before word, search must not contain the word. Examples: “civil war”, +television, -headache

Cannot use a combination of proximity searching and boolean searching in the same search statement.

W# with proximity. Specifies that word following must be within that number of words of the word preceding. Example: shared w3 values

N# near proximity. Specifies that word on either side of the N# will be within that number of words. Example: memory n5 repressed

Date searching. Since, after, gt, or >, to express the concept of “more recently”. Before, lt, <, to express “earlier than.” Yyyy-yyyy or yyyy to yyyy for range of years. Examples: >1815; before 1815; june 15, 1815; 15 june 1915; 6/15/1815; 1815-1820

Must use name of place or event as it was used at the time of the articles you wish to retrieve. Example: St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, St. Petersburg, depending on when you are interested in it.

Must use British English spellings. See help screen Brief Guide to British English, which has information on vocabulary and spelling differences.

Help also has info on: names of political parties (but no dates); military ranks; monetary system; holidays; peerage.

Michigan State University