Search Tips

Searching Encyclopædia Britannica Online can lead you to a wealth of information. When you enter a keyword or phrase, we search the entire text of the encyclopedias as well as magazine articles, videos, and thousands of Web site reviews written by our world-class editors.


Standard Search:

1. Type a word or phrase in the search box on the Encyclopædia Britannica Online home page or at the top of search results.

2. Click Go to begin the search.

3. Search results from Encyclopædia Britannica will display as the default. Click the link to the article when you find one of interest.

4. Choose a content source from the list on the left to see more results. When you find an image, video, Web site, or magazine article click the link to read more. If you have trouble finding what you want, read the Tips for Better Results below.


Advanced Search:

Using advanced search will allow you to easily construct complex queries, increase the number of results displayed on a page, or change the content that will display first in your search results.

1. Click the Advanced Search link from the home page or from the top of any article or browse page.

2. Enter words in as many search fields in whatever combination necessary to create your query.

3. If you'd like to change the number of results, use the menu on the right.

4. If you'd like to change the default search result, use the buttons at the bottom of the page.

5. Click Go when you have enter all the parameters for your search.


Tips for Better Results

Use the following tips to improve your searches and get better results.

• Order of Search Results

• Using Quotation Marks

• Nicknames or Alternate Titles

• Uppercase or Lowercase?

• Singular or plural?

• American or British Spelling?

• Abbreviations and Acronyms

• Punctuation

• Advanced Searches: Boolean Operators


Order of Search Results

Search results are ranked to ensure that the closest match to the word or phrase you searched appears at or near the top of the list. Encyclopedia articles with all your search terms in the title appear first, followed by articles with all the terms in the text of the article. Next are listed articles with any of your search terms in the title, followed by those with any of the terms in the text of the article.

For the best results, enter specific terms or multiple words in the search box. You will find better results for Abraham Lincoln if you enter his full name than if you search for Lincoln.

NOTE: Using Advanced Search can change the ordering of search results.


Using Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks around words or phrases if you want them to appear word for word in your search results. For example, if you are interested in the American Civil War and you do not want to see results for other civil wars, type "American Civil War" in the Search Box.


Nicknames or Alternate Titles

For Encyclopædia Britannica, with its longer and more complex articles, the search engine also identifies matches to nicknames and alternate titles. You can search on JFK to find articles on John F. Kennedy.


Uppercase or Lowercase?

Type your search words in uppercase or lowercase -- it doesn't matter. Changing the case of the letters in your query will not affect search results in any way. For example, the word AIDS gives you the same results as the word aids.


Singular or Plural?

You can use either singular or plural words in encyclopedia searches. However, use singular words to search the dictionary/thesaurus.


American or British Spelling?

Because Encyclopædia Britannica is of British origin, many of the articles use British spellings. You can enter either spelling of your search term, for example theater or theatre, and find the same results.


Abbreviations and Acronyms

Using abbreviations or acronyms in your query can make a difference in your search results. If you want to use an abbreviation in your search, or to understand an abbreviation in an article, check this abbreviation list.


Punctuation and Special Characters


Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks around words or phrases if you want them to appear word for word in your search results. See Using Quotation Marks.



Use parentheses in Boolean operator formulas to separate and group words or phrases. See Boolean Operators.



Use hyphens or spaces when searching for hyphenated words and names. Both will return the same results.



Use apostrophes in your search term, except when the apostrophe indicates possession. For example, if you looking for the article on the Chinese deity, you will find better results if you search for T'ien rather than T ien. You don't need to use 's in your search term for possessives. A search for Steno's law or Stenos law will return the same results.


Special Characters

Many Encyclopædia Britannica articles use diacritical marks and special characters that are difficult to enter in a search term. You can search without these characters to still find the matching results. For example, a search on francois will return articles that match françois.


Boolean Operators

You can use Advanced Search to construct complex queries that correspond to Boolean operator, including AND, OR, and NOT. You can also simply enter the operators as part of a query in any search box on the site.

AND: Use the AND operator (it must be in all capital letters) or + to specify that you want all of your search words to appear in the results. German AND shepherd

OR: Use the OR operator (it must be in all capital letters) to receive search results that contain any one or all of the words in your multiple word query. Yugoslavia OR Bosnia

NOT: Use the NOT operator (it must be in all capital letters) or - to exclude words from your search results. Washington NOT George

You can use these three Boolean operators in any combination by breaking your query into a formula using parentheses.

EXAMPLE: cherokee AND (language OR alphabet) NOT sequoyah

This search finds results about the Cherokee language or alphabet, but not Sequoyah.