The single search box of Ontolica Search allows you to perform both simple and complex searches.You can use Boolean operators, wildcard operators, property searches and more, to construct powerful and precise queries that will allow you to find exactly what you are looking for. The short guide below explains the syntax of the Ontolica Search and provides search samples.

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators enable you to construct complex logical expressions that include many different search words or phrases, including both inclusive and exclusive conditions. Ontolica supports the following standard Boolean operators:

AND - When two search words (or clauses) are connected by an AND operator, then the expression will be true only for documents that contain both terms (or when both clauses return true). When no operator is supplied, this is the default.

OR- When two search words (or clauses) are connected by an OR operator, then the expression will be true for documents that include either one or both of the terms (or when one or both of the clauses return true).

NOT- When a search word (or clause) is proceeded by a NOT operator, then the expression will be true only for documents that do not include that word (or for which the clause returns false). You can also use a minus sign for this (-).

NEAR- When two search words are separated by a NEAR operator, then the search will return only documents that contain those two words close to each other (within approximately 50 words), but not pages that contain just one of the words, or even both words if they are far from each other.

Phrase Searches

For exact phrase matching, enclose your search term in single or double quotes. Ontolica will view any term in quotes as a phrase, and will look specifically for that phrase. The search will return only documents that contain the words used in the phrase and exactly in the specified order. For example, the term "biomedical research models", in quotes, will yield fewer, and more specific, results than typing in the phrase without quotes.

Wildcard Searches

A wildcard is a placeholder character that can be included at the end of a search word to replace individual letters or sequences of letters, thereby greatly increasing the flexibility and efficiency of searches. It is useful if you are unsure of the spelling, or cannot find what you are looking for with the usual spelling of a name. Ontolica interprets an asterisk (*) to be a wildcard character. This wildcard character has no special effect if placed in the beginning or in the middle of a search word (this is a limitation of the SharePoint search engine). For example, a search for "wed*" will return pages that include the words "wed", "wedding" and "Wednesday", but not "newlywed".

Note: You can configure the Ontolica SharePoint Search Result Web Part to apply an implicit wildcard to the end of all search words, but this demands extra computing resources and can make rankings less accurate; however it often works well for people searches. See "Ontolica SharePoint Search Result Web Part" for details.

Complex Search Expressions

You construct complex search expressions by combining all of the techniques outlined above. Ontolica interprets your search expressions using the standard rules for Boolean operations. Use Boolean operators to connect clauses and parentheses to organize the clauses. You can also include property-search clauses using the Ontolica property-search syntax.When parentheses are used, the operations within the innermost pair is performed first, followed by the next pair out, etc., until all operations within parentheses have been completed. Then any operations outside the parentheses are performed.Please see a mathematical reference for complete details about how to compose and resolve complex Boolean expressions.

Property Searches

In addition to the literal page text, Ontolica also collects metadata about each page. You can search for specific values for specific types of metadata by entering a property name and value separated by a suitable operator (such as ‘:’, ’ =’, ’ <’, ‘ >’, etc.). For example, "author:'Douglas Coupland' " will search for documents written by the author named Douglas Coupland. See "Property Search Syntax" for a complete list of available properties and the operators and other syntax available for searching in each of them.

Property Search Syntax

In addition to standard, free-text searches, Ontolica also enables you, via the free-text input field, to search for specific document properties such as:

Author: the name of the person who last modified the document
Filename: the name of the file
Date: the date when the document was created or modifyed
FileExtension: type of the file (docx, pptx, xlsx, pdf, jpg, etc.)
Path: path to a specified folder (its subfolders, files) or specified file
Site: the URL of the site
Custom: your own special properties. Please see "The Searchable Properties Page" for instructions on how to make properties searchable

To specify these types of advanced searches, you must use the specific key words and syntax rules described below. The usual rules apply when specifying property searches:

• To construct a complex query that includes several search words and properties, simply insert a space between each of them. You can also combine them with Boolean operators.

• If you want to search for a property value that includes a space, then you must surround the value in quotes, as with other types of phrase searches.
• Words not connected to a property name are standard search words, which are matched against the content of each document.

• You can use wildcards (*) and phrases (in quotes) when specifying values for your property searches. However, wildcards can only be used with the ‘contains’ operator (:).

• If you use the equals operator (=), then only exact matches will be found; multi-word property values must include all words, in the right order, to find a match. For example, if the author of a document is "Kurt Vonnegut", then the search "author='Kurt Vonnegut'" will find it, but "author=Vonnegut" will not. You cannot use the wildcard character with the ‘equals’ operator.

• When you use the ‘contains’ operator (:), then the specified value will be matched against each word of multi-word property values. Using the author example mentioned above, "author:Vonnegut" will find the document, while "author=Vonnegut" will not. When specifying word fragments, you must use the ‘contains’ operator together with the wildcard. Again, with our author example, "author:Vonn" will not find the document, but "author:Vonn*" will find it.

• Relative operators, such as ’<’, ‘>’, ‘=<’ and ‘=>’, can only be used for numerical or date values, not with text values.

Search samples

Author Property:

Author: Charles Search for any "Charles" in the Author property.

Author = "Charles Dickens" Search only for "Charles Dickens" in the Author property.


Filename: small Search for all files with the name "small" regardless of file extensions

Filename = small.ppt Search for exact file(s) with the name "small" and the file extension '.ppt'

Filename: ppt Search for documents specifying only the file extensions


FileExtension = pdf Search for all Adobe Portable Document Format files


Site = "http://setup-b/ontolica" Search for a site with a specified URL


Path = "file://filofix/projects/TestIndex" Search for a path to a specified folder

Path = "file://filofix/projects/TestIndex/small.ppt" Search for a path to a specified file

Path: "file://filofix/projects/TestIndex" Search for paths to the specified folder, files in that folder, subfolders and files in subfolders

Path: "file://filofix/projects/TestIndex/small" Search for paths to file(s) with the specified name

Created and Modified:

Created = 10/5/2009 Search for documents created on the specified date

Modified = 10/5/2009 Search for documents modified on the specified date. You can also use relative operators '<', '<=', '>=', or '>' with the 'Created' and ‘Modified’ properties to find documents created earlier or later than the specified date.


IsDocument = 1 Limits the scope of the search results only to those which contain documents
IsDocument = 0 Just the opposite of the previous example

More Help

For more help and documentation please contact your SharePoint administrator and, if needed, ask to get in touch with our support on your behalf, at