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Search Help and Tips

The Quick Search Box is located on the top right of each page:

Type the words you are looking for in the search box, then use the ‘Enter’ key or click on GO, and the website will search for full results relevant to your query. Most of the time you will find exactly what you are looking for using the Quick Search box; however, you can use Advanced Search page for more search options. Quick Search returns results for all the words you enter. Usually all the words you put in the query will be used to locate the results.

Quick Search will automatically look for plurals and include results for words relating to the root of the word entered (for example if you look for ‘rain’ then results will include ‘rains’, ‘rained’ and ‘raining’). This process is called ‘stemming’.

Searches are normally case insensitive – for example, ‘Hilary Mantel’ will return the same results as ‘hilary MANTEL’. However, if you enter a word that contains a mixture of upper and lower case letters (e.g. ‘PowerShot’), then the search will look for both the word you entered and the individual constituent words. Hyphenated words are treated similarly.

Punctuation is always ignored. You cannot search for @#$%^&*()=+[]\ etc.

Accented words: European accents are optional, as the search will return results for words with and without the accents – e.g. ‘Colm Toibin’ will also return results for ‘Colm Tóibín’.

If you enter a word that does not occur in the archive then the search will suggest an alternative with “Did you mean...”. This facility is intended to help with unintentional spelling errors and typos. However, if the suggested word is part of a phrase then the search may not return any results.

Tips for better searching

  • Simple is good. Most queries do not require advanced operators or complex syntax.
  • To search for an exact phrase, such as a reviewed book, use quotes: "the prophet outcast".
  • The search already uses the word order and the fact that the words are grouped together as a very strong requirement, so quotes are generally not essential – but they can help if you don’t find what you’re looking for first time around.
  • You can also use quotes if you’re looking for a contributor, reviewed author or other person: "hilary mantel", "david foster wallace", "john mcenroe".
  • Use as few words as possible to maximise your results. Each additional word will limit the results.
  • Using words that are descriptive and unique will return the most relevant results.
  • To reduce your results if there are too many, you can use the minus sign to exclude words from the results – for example, ‘shakespeare -plays’. It can also be used if you know what you’re not looking for: ‘france -robespierre’, ‘iraq -WMDs’.

Looking at search results

Initial search results, with no filtering

The results are displayed sorted by ‘relevance’. There are options to change this to sort by date (most recent first or oldest first). The search terms found in the article extracts are highlighted in yellow. The number of results found is displayed.

Each article result returned displays (where appropriate):

  • Title of the article (a link to full text of the article)
  • Contributor name (a link to the contributor details)
  • The issue and date the article appeared in
  • Reviewed book details (book title, author, year of publication, number of pages, ISBN)

Filtering your results – classification

The London Review of Books provides all the benefits of faceted classification, a set of tags which reflect the essential components of an article and allows articles to be associated appropriately with each other. Effective classification is moderate and lucid; it reflects the preponderance of the article and presents an all-embracing and useful picture of what an article covers.

Filtered search results

Subject and key topic classify: the main discipline or subject matter of the article; what the article is reviewing; the field in which this topic would be studied; or the appropriate category. Every entry has a classification by type: essay, book review, poem, diary, film review, etc.

Additionally, bibliographic filters are available:

  • Contributor - the writer of the article
  • Author - of the reviewed book(s)
  • Publisher - of the reviewed book(s)

See Search and Classification for more detail on how this is structured.

Detail view of filtered results

Using the Advanced Search page

The Advanced Search page offers a number of additional options:

Advanced Search screen shot

Examples of common searches

  • An article by title

    Articles with the title you are searching for will appear highest (most relevant) in the results if you use the Quick Search box and a phrase, for example ‘Offered by the Gods’.

  • A reviewed book

    The best results will be obtained using the Advanced Search page and the Bibliographic Details option. If you use the Quick Search box you will still be able to find the book you are looking for. However, you may find additional results are included; for example, ‘The Sight of Death’ returns results where the book is referenced as well as the article in which the book is reviewed.

  • Articles on a particular subject

    Finding articles by subject is most effectively done using the Browse by Classification page. This will allow you to drill down into the data and find articles according to the classification by subject, keyword, place, period and article type. In this way relevant articles that do not necessarily contain common or identifiable words or phrases can easily be identified.

  • Articles by a specific contributor

    Finding all the articles written by a specific contributor is most effectively done using the Contributor Index, where all the articles by the contributor are accessible.

  • Reviews of books by a specific author

    The best results will be obtained using the Advanced Search page and the Bibliographic Details option. If you use the Quick Search box you will still be able to find the author you are looking for. However, you may find additional results are included; for example, ‘Andrew O’Hagan’ returns article results where he is the reviewed author, the contributor, and other articles that reference his work.

A combination of ‘all the words’ and ‘excluding the words’ can be useful to refine unmanageably numerous search results (e.g. all the words: ‘shakespeare tragedy’ excluding the words: ‘hamlet’).

Searching for phrases

When you enter a phrase (for example, ‘Edward Robinson’), you will notice that the results include articles that do not contain exactly the words as they are entered. The search will place emphasis on the words and will give a high relevance to articles where a percentage of the words are matched within a tight group. The automatic inclusion of related words, such as plurals and root words, ensure the most relevant results are returned.

This sophistication is particularly useful in the example above, where articles containing ‘Edward G Robinson’ are included in the results. Synonyms might replace some words in your original query, particularly words where alternative spellings are in common use – for example, ‘colour’ and ‘color’, ‘theatre’ and ‘theater’. A particular word might not appear on a page in your results if there is sufficient other evidence that the page is relevant.

Refining your results

In order to further refine the results, you can specifically exclude results that contain a particular word by using a minus sign immediately before the word, preceded with a space. For example, in the query ‘anti-war protest’, the minus sign is used as a hyphen and will not be interpreted as an exclusion symbol; whereas the query ‘anti-war -protest’ will search for the words ‘anti-war’ but exclude references to ‘protest’. You can exclude as many words as you want by using the - sign in front of all of them – for example, ‘Shakespeare tragedy -Hamlet -Othello’.

If you want to ensure the results contain a specific word, you can use a plus sign immediately before the word - for example ‘Shakespeare tragedy +Macbeth’. Note that the search will still stem the word, finding plurals and so on for the required term as well as the specific term you have prefixed with a ‘+’.

Unexpected results?

There may be instances where the word for which you are searching has more than one meaning (a homonym) – for example, ‘Said’ (ie. ‘Edward Said’ or ‘he said’) and ‘France’ (both a country and an author surname). In general, the best way to improve the results is to either use additional words, or use the filtering options to narrow down your results. See Refining Your Results and Examples of Common Searches for additional tips.

The London Review of Books does not exclude any very common words you enter in your search (commonly called ‘stop words’). Leaving these words out of your search or searching for a phrase such as ‘the cat sat on the mat’ may return more specific results.

Search results are returned initially sorted by relevance. This is derived by giving different elements of the underlying data different priorities (sometimes called ‘weighting’). The articles you seek may appear further down the list of results than you expect if your requirements are different to those of the majority of users. The London Review of Books search function does not recognise ‘wildcards’. Characters such as ‘?’ and ‘*’ will be ignored.

Using Indexes

Sometimes our site indexes are the best way of finding content. Currently we offer indexes by issue and contributor.

Other search options

The London Review of Books is indexed by many leading academic indexes including the MLA International Bibliography, and specialist book review indexes such as Book Review Index and Book Review Digest. It is also indexed by many other general services including OCLC FirstSearch, Cengage/Gale’s Extended Academic ASAP and EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete. Abstracts for all articles are publicly available via search engines such as Google.

If you have still not found the answer you are looking for, please contact us.