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Basic Query Composition Facts and Guidelines

Searching information with the Coveo Platform is simple. In the search box, type a few words describing what you are looking for, and then click the Search button to instantly see relevant and rich results from the unified index.

The following facts and guidelines will help you compose efficient search queries.

Query composition guidelines

Choose descriptive words

Choose more precise and unique words to get more focused results. Avoid general common terms that most likely do not help to narrow results.

Example: Avoid terms like document or information that may be present in many indexed documents.

Use the right number of terms

Each term helps to refine the results. Add more descriptive words to further narrow the search results list.

Try synonyms

When you want to broaden search results, use synonyms or alternate expressions that other people may use.

Query composition facts

Same root words are searched

By default, to broaden search results, each query term is decomposed to its root form to expand the query with words with the same root (see About Stemming).

Example: When searching performance, other same root words such as perform, performs, performed, and performing are also searched. However, documents containing the exact searched term are ranked higher in the search results list.

Each term is important

Documents containing all the terms that you type in the search box are searched. An optimized ranking process is used to first return the most relevant documents containing your keywords (see Understanding Search Results Ranking).

Order of terms is not important

The order of the terms in the query has no effect on the search results. An exception to this fact is when you use a phrase search with quotation marks (see Searching a Phrase).

Queries are not case-sensitive

Searches are not case-sensitive as you cannot find only documents containing a specific casing variant of a term. However, documents containing the searched casing variant are ranked higher (see Are Queries Case-Sensitive?).

Punctuation is ignored

Punctuation marks such as .,;:!? are ignored and interpreted as space characters.

Example: Searching for hello! or for hello returns the same results.

However, punctuation marks can be interpreted as operators in specific contexts (see Using Special Characters in Queries).

Special characters may have special effects

Depending on the context in the query, special characters such as -+_~@#$…%^&*) are either ignored or interpreted as operators (see Using Special Characters in Queries).

Misspelled words are corrected

Coveo search interfaces either suggest spelling corrections or automatically correct misspelled terms before launching the search. In both cases, a message appears at the top of the search results to indicate what was done with a misspelled term (see How Are Misspelled Words Handled?).

Tip: In the default web .NET search interface, you can set your misspelled words handling preference (see Modifying .NET Search Interface Preferences).

Numbers are important

Digits, numbers, and alphanumeric expressions are searchable as words.

Example: You can search for a part number such as gti-3756F-EN, a phone number like 555-987-1234, a segment of a part number such as 3756F, or a segment of a phone number like 987.
When you search for a number like 3.1416, because non-alphanumeric characters like the decimal separator are not indexed, this is equivalent to searching "3 1416" (see Using Special Characters in Queries).

Accented characters are taken into account

By default, because of stemming expansion, when a term occurs with or without accented characters, searching for either form returns the same results but the documents containing the searched accented form are ranked higher.

Example: Searching for déjà or deja returns the same results, with different ranking.

You can however use the exact term prefix (+) in front of a term with accented character to find only documents containing this accented form of the term (see Searching an Exact Term).

Example: Searching for +déjà only returns documents containing déjà, not documents containing other forms of the word such as deja.

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