SharePoint Search Tips

Knowing how to search for files and information in SharePoint is critical to improving the ease with which information can be found. “Findability” increases when users understand how to perform an effective search. The key is successful search results is training users to to enter full or partial keywords into the search engine in the correct order and with the correct use of Boolean Operators, quotation marks, and the Wildcard symbol.

Let’s start with some key definitions:

What is a Boolean Operator?

  • Boolean Operators are simple words (AND, OR, NOT or AND NOT).
  • They are used as conjunctions to combine or exclude keywords in a search.
  • They can be used to eliminate inappropriate search results.

What is the Wildcard symbol?

  • In SharePoint, the Wildcard symbol is the asterisk ( * ) special character.
  • The wildcard is a special character that represents one or more other characters.
  • In SharePoint, it can be used at the end of a word to represent one or more substitute characters.

How to Use SharePoint Search

Basic SharePoint Search Tips:

Typing one word.

Tip: Search results are not case sensitive.

Search Keyword Example: policeman

Search Results: policeman, Policeman, PoliceMan


Typing multiple words with spaces between each word.

Tip: List words in order of importance.

Tip: Results will return items that contain any of the words listed.

Search Keyword Example: award police man

Search Results: award AND police AND man


Typing the exact phrase inside quotation marks.

Tip: Results will return items containing that exact phrase.

Search Keyword Example: “police man”

Search Results: police man


Searching for exact phrase with special characters (! @ # $ % ^ &).

Tip: To search for special characters in a query enclose your query in quotation marks.

Search Keyword Example: “AT&T”

Search Results: AT&T


Using the wildcard symbol at the end of a word to represent one or more substitute characters.

Tip: Results will return all items that contain words that begin with “police”.

Tip: Can only be used as the last character in a query. Cannot be used at the start of a query.

Tip: Useful when the exact spelling of a search word is not known.

Search Keyword Example: police*

Search Results: police, policeman, policing, policed


Tips about Search Results:

  • A newly created document or item may not appear in your search results right away. The Search engine updates its keyword index on a timer.
  • Your search results will differ from other staff. The search engine only lists documents that your user account has permission to view.

Relevance: SharePoint 2013 and newer

Last updated: July 20, 2016