The search techniques outlined in Search help serve the needs of the vast majority of user searches. However, you can also use the search box in simple search, or the text box in advanced search, to construct quite complex searches that are highly specific about what is being searched

Specifying fields to be searched

You can specify which fields you want to be searched using a simple syntax of field name plus colon plus search term, e.g. country:Russia.

Note that there must be no space between the colon and the term.

For example, if you want to find any mention at all of Argentina (instead of articles which have been keyworded Argentina), you could specify content:Argentina.

Here is a list of the field names you can use in this way:

  • content: term appears anywhere in the text of the piece
    Example: content:Russia
  • titling: term appears anywhere in the titling of the piece - that is, the main title areas such as headline, short summary, etc
    Example: titling:economy
  • country: has the piece been keyworded to this country
    Example: country:Russia
  • primarycountry: is the piece about this country?
    Example: primarycountry:Russia
  • titlingcountry: is this country the entire subject of this piece?
    Example: titlingcountry:Russia
  • topic: has the piece been keyworded to this topic (from our list of topics)?
    Example: topic:oil
  • primarytopic: is the piece about this topic (from our list of topics)?
    Example: primarytopic:oil

If you use this syntax, then terms with more than one word must be treated as phrases and so enclosed in double quotes.

primarycountry:"United Kingdom" will match the country United Kingdom, whereas primarycountry:United Kingdom will try to match the (invalid) country "United"


Boolean OR

The search engine assumes that at least one of the terms separated by empty space should be matched, so France China searches for results on either France OR China.

France OR China can also be used.

Boolean AND

Separate each term with an AND if you wish to search for articles that match each term, so France AND China searches for results on both France AND China.


Prefix with a minus sign to exclude a search term,
so Ukraine -Russia finds articles about Ukraine that are not about Russia.


To search for terms that appear near each other, search for a quoted phrase followed by ~n, where n is the maximum distance that the terms appear from each other.

For example, content:"economic policy"~10 finds articles where the term economic or economy appears within 10 words of the term policy or politics.

Promixity searches can only be used with content: or titling: fields (see above).

Multiple search clauses

It's possible to build very complex searches out of all the ingredients above using brackets.

This is best demonstrated with some examples:

  • (primarycountry:Russia primarycountry:China) AND (primarytopic:oil primarytopic:gas) - articles primarily about Russia or China AND oil or gas
  • (country:"United Kingdom" country:Ireland) AND (content:"economy policy"~10) - articles concerning the UK or Ireland which have the words economy and policy close together in the content

You can nest brackets and search terms as much as you like.