Using the Repository Search Functionality

Welcome to the Repository search tool, designed to help you find specific laws and information efficiently. Below are key features and tips for utilizing the search options effectively:

Search Options Overview:

When you visit the Repository homepage, you'll find two primary search options:

  • Homepage Search Bar: The Homepage Search Bar searches all elements of law entries (title, body, bibliography, etc.) and auto-populates results matching the search term in the style of a Google search, making it ideal for simple or narrow searches like city names.

    • If you click directly on a law, you will be taken to it in a new window; if you instead press Enter, you will be taken to the Results Page.

  • Browse the Full Archive of Laws: This option directly opens a blank Results Page, suitable for more advanced or broad searches.

The Results Page:

The Results Page Search Box conducts the same search as the Homepage Search Bar on the Repository’s homepage. It too will auto-populate results and it too will search every part of the laws (i.e., title, body, bibliography, footnotes, tags, etc.).

  • After a basic search has been entered, a user will see the number of matching results, the titles and first few lines of the list of matching laws, and several options to narrow down the results further.

  • There is also an “Advanced Search” feature at the bottom for narrowing results using Boolean operators.

Using “*” as a Wildcard:

Users can employ the wildcard, viz., “*”, to capture singular and plural occurrences, words with alternative spellings, etc. The wildcard “*” stands for any number of alphanumeric characters.

  • For instance, “dog*” will find “dog,” “dogs,” and “dog-tree,” but not “hot-dog.”

  • Because “*” can stand for any number of letters, it will function to find plurals or different verb forms regardless of how many letters (including zero) follow the root.

    • For instance, “batter*” will find “battery” and “batteries.”

Include Related Terms?:

Checking the “Include Related Terms?” box will widen the search to include synonyms for words and/or common misspellings of words.

  • To avoid getting too many off-topic results, we suggest that users leave the “Include Related terms?” box unchecked at first and then can later search again with it checked if they do not find enough results.

Unusual Spellings and Misspellings:

For a time, the standard editorial practice for the Repository was to leave any misspellings exactly as written in the original text. Because this can interfere with search functionality, we now spell things correctly in the body of all laws while footnoting the fact that a word was spelled differently in the original document.

The Advanced Search Tool:

Beneath the results in the search box, users can narrow results further by adjusting the years being searched, the law type, law subject, and any topic tags. Users can also further narrow (or expand) results by using the Advanced Search tool.

If the user opens the “Advanced Search” dropdown, this will present a Boolean operator dropdown menu followed by a box labelled “Term.” To the right of this box is another box labelled “Appears Within,” followed by a dropdown menu listing the various entry segments for each law (title, body, bibliography, etc.).

For example, suppose a user searches either the Home Page Search Bar or the Results Page Search Box for the word “Chicago.” This will search all parts of all laws for that word.

  • To narrow down results so that only laws with the word “gunpowder” in the body of the law will be returned, the user can choose “And” from the Boolean dropdown menu, type “gunpowder” in the “Term” box, and then choose “Law Content” from the “Appears Within” dropdown menu.

  • If the user wants to expand the search to include laws from Pittsburgh, then the user can run the same search for Chicago, but this time choose “Or” from the Boolean dropdown menu, choose “Title” from the “Appears Within” dropdown menu, and enter “Pittsburgh.”

Using Multiple Boolean Searches:

Users can add as many Boolean operators as they would like to further narrow down (by using “And”/“Not”), or to further expand (by using “Or”), their search results.

  • For instance, if a user wants to also search for Raleigh, she or he can select “+ Add Another Search Parameter” and a new set of Boolean dropdowns will appear.

    • In this example, the user runs a main search for “Chicago,” in the Results Page Search Box then a Boolean “Or” with “Pittsburgh” in the title, and finally another Boolean “Or” with “Raleigh” in the title.

    • This should present the user will most of the laws from Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh.

Expanding Search Results:

The wildcard (“*”) retains its full functionality in the “Advanced Search” tool.  It is possible to expand a search even further by changing “Title” to “Law Content” in the “Appears Within” dropdown menu and/or by checking the box labelled “Include Related terms?”.

Contacting Support:

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules concerning how to best run a search. Users are encouraged to try several different strategies to ensure that they have found all relevant laws. Any outstanding questions or suggestions concerning the functionality of the Repository’s search features may be addressed to Ethan Margolis.