Searching guide

Doing more in the 'simple' search box

We call the search bar at the top of each Trove page our ‘simple’ search box. Type in a word or phrase and receive results across all zones. 

You can also build complex “power searches” in the simple search box by using special search terms. 

The simple search bar at the top of the Trove interface.

There is a video on power searching here: 

Construct complex searches using 'AND', 'OR' and 'NOT'

When you enter multiple keywords in the simple search box, Trove assumes that you want to find things that have all those words in them. It effectively puts an 'AND' between your keywords.

You can easily modify this behaviour by using 'AND', 'OR' and 'NOT' in your own queries. For example:

For best results, use brackets to enclose your search clauses. You can also use a minus sign next to a word in place of NOT:

Keep in mind, however, that these simple operators don't correspond exactly to the way Solr (our search index) constructs its queries. Find out exactly how Solr contructs queries.

Limit your search to a specific field, such as title or author

You can search a number of specific fields using the simple search box. For example, to search for items written by Mem Fox, try the following query: creator:(mem fox)

Fields you can search Example
creator creator:(Donald Norman) (includes authors, photographers, illustrators, editors, etc)
subject subject:(cognitive psychology)
title title:(short history of Australia)
isbn isbn:0333337352
issn issn:0810-8633
publictag publictag:(sydney)

nuc:QU (Items held by QU but not QU:IR)

nuc:"QU:IR" (Items held by QU:IR. Need to put the nuc in quotations)

nuc:QU* (Items held by QU, QU:IR and other NUCs starting with QU)

You can search more than one field at a time. For example: title:(heat) creator:(neil hargreaves)

You can also use 'AND', 'OR' and 'NOT' to structure your fielded search. For example: title:(heat) NOT creator:(neil hargreaves).

Limit your search to a date range

You can use the simple search box to limit your results to a certain date range. For example:

You can also refine your search to a decade or year using the facets to the left of the results page. 

Search for a phrase

To search for your keywords as a phrase, rather than as separate words, simply enclose them in quotation marks. For example: “sydney harbour bridge”.

Be cautious when searching for people’s names in this way, as they could be recorded as either “Charles Dickens” or “Dickens, Charles”.

Search for an exact spelling

To help you find what you want, Trove applies a certain amount of fuzziness to its searches. So searching for Jackes would normally return results containing both Jackes and Jack (although Jackes would be considered more relevant).

To turn off the fuzziness and limit results to the exact spelling of your keywords, use the 'text:' modifier in the simple search box. For example:

Note that relevance ranking may not perform as well as usual using this search method.

Use a wildcard to broaden your search

You can use the wildcard symbol * in the simple search box to broaden your queries.

For example, to find either “mathematics tutorial” or “maths tutor” try:

You must provide at least three characters before adding the wildcard symbol.

Search for words near each other

As well as asking Trove to find things that contain your keywords, you can specify how close together the keywords should appear.

Just use the ~ (tilde) symbol in the simple search box to set the 'distance' between your keywords. For example: "pioneer australia"~2 will match items with 'pioneer' and 'australia' within two words of each other.

These types of searches are particularly useful for finding things like names.

Search for a tag

You can search for user-added tags in the simple search box. For example: publictag:LRRSA searches for the tag 'LRRSA'.

You can combine tag searching with other power searching techniques, for example: Raymond NOT publictag:"Alfred John Raymond".

You can also use wildcards, however, they will only match words at the start of tags: publictag:japan* (matches tags starting with 'Japan' or 'Japanese'). 

Search for items with comments or tags

Using the simple search box you can easily limit your results to items that have tags or comments attached to them. For example: 

You can also use 'NOT' to find items without tags or comments:

Search for names or phrases containing punctuation

Punctuation marks are not searched by Trove, as the process of creating the electronically translated text often adds additional punctuation that would decrease the accuracy of the search results. This may, however, result in difficulties when searching for names or phrases that include punctuation, such as O’Reilly and 2/14th Battalion.

To search for terms that would normally include punctuation, omit the punctuation from your search terms, running the terms together (i.e. oreilly and 214th battalion rather than o’reilly and 2/14th Battalion). It is also worth replacing the punctuation with a space, and searching for the term as a phrase (i.e. “o reilly” or “2 14th battalion), as the punctuation may not have been recognsed.

Search for names starting with 'Mc'

Names beginning with Mc may be printed as M‘, and processed as an M followed by an apostrophe, M’.

As Trove does not search on punctuation, try searching for the name excluding the ‘c’, or replacing the ‘c’ with a space and searching as a phrase (i.e. mhugh or “m hugh” in addition to mchugh).

Search for hyphenated names or words

Improvements in Trove's software mean that we no longer have any special rules for indexing or searching for hyphenated words. When indexing articles in Trove, Trove sees each word as starting and ending where there is punctuation, including spaces, full stops, hyphens or other characters. Trove also sees words as starting where a character is capitalised. Both hyphenated and words identified by capitalised letters (including words that contain apostrophes) are indexed in such a way that each ‘part’ of the word is searchable separately, but searching for the complete word will still find the item.

Using the checkboxes

Find online resources you can access right now

Using the 'Online only' checkbox limits your search to items which are available online. Online materials are divided into three sub-categories: Freely available, Access conditions, or Unknown (Possibly available online).

Find items in your libraries
Once you have set up a list of libraries and institutions you have access to, you can limit your search using the 'In my libraries' limit below the simple search box.

In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to, you must first login or sign up. You can then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page. To access your profile page, click on your user name at the top right of any screen.

Find Australian items
Using the 'Australian only' checkbox limits your search to items which are about Australia or Australians, by an Australian, or published in Australia.


Refine your search results

There are several ways you can refine your search results.

Limiting your search to a particular zone

1)      Enter your desired search term and click on the green ‘Search’ button;
2)      Under the heading for each zone you will see a link, ‘view all XXX results’, click on this link in the zone you would like to narrow your results down to.

Using the ‘Refine your results’ menu

This menu is a list of predefined filters and options to refine your search results.

1)      The ‘Refine your search results’ menu is located on the left hand side of search result pages;
2)      You can refine your results in multiple ways, click on one of the headings to see more options.  For example click on the Format menu and it will expand and display more options;

Format – Filter results by their format (Book, Video, Article)

Availability – This filter allows you to filter online records by their access conditions

Decade – You can narrow your search results based on what decade they were published

Language – Select what language you would like to filter your results

Australian Content – Only return records that were published/about Australia

Selected Subject views – Some records have their subject or topic included in their record and you can filter your results on these fields.

3)      When you add a filter to your results a box will appear next to the search input box that will list all the filters that have been applied to the results;
4)      Click on the red ‘x’ icon to remove a particular filter;
5)      You may clear all applied filters by clicking the ‘clear all’ link.

Advanced Search
Click on the ‘Advanced search’ link located next to the green ‘Search’ button.

How does Trove's relevance ranking work?

The relevance ranking is complex and takes many things into account.

  • A record with a match in the title, subject or author field is considered more relevant than one with a match anywhere else. (But this is complicated by the number of matches found, and other rules which can push records higher or lower)
  • Exact matches are ranked higher than not-quite-exact (stemmed) matches. (e.g. You search for Jack, we match Jackes. Items that don’t have the exact word you used your search are not as relevant as those which do.)
  • Search terms close together are ranked higher than search terms far apart.
  • If two records have very similar titles, but the second record also has the search terms found in the notes or full text of the record, the second record will be considered to be slightly more relevant than the first.
  • A record which has a higher “density" of matches with the search terms is ranked higher than a record with a low density. (That is, a short sentence with one occurrence of your search terms will rank higher than 100 pages of text with one occurrence of your search terms)
  • Items where your search terms are only found in the full text (or in the finding aid) are not as relevant as items where your search terms are found in the title, author, subject, note, etc.
  • Items from "my libraries" or online are more relevant. Items with no holdings or other getting options are less relevant.
  • Search terms found in a single work but split across different editions will be ranked very low

Searching the web archive

The web archive is enormous so you need to be very specific with your search terms.
Watch our video to learn more.

Simple search

  • Use double quotes and specific terms: “National Library of Australia Annual Report 2014-15”
  • Avoid broad terms: Annual Report or Australia
  • Limit your results to the web domain

If you know the web address you’re looking for, you can enter it as a simple search. Your search results will include sites that link to sites with the URL you specify.
If you only want to search one particular site, use ‘Show webpage with the exact URL’ in Advanced Search.


No matter what type of search you conduct, you will find duplicates. This is because the web archive has captured the website on different dates and the contents might not have changed.
Searching the web archive will not give you other results from Trove. You will only see results from the web archive.


Advanced Search
Advanced Search will provide more precise or useful results. Narrow your search by:

  • domains
  • dates
  • file types