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Using the Early Years website search and discovery tools

If you are new to using site search or would like to know how to get a little more from you searching experience then read on.


The Early Years site uses a powerful and sophisticated search engine that provides many search options that allow you to find exactly what you are looking for when you want to search for something specific. If you are not sure exactly what you are looking for the site you can enter a search term and the set of search results will allow you discover information related to your search terms which will be grouped by Early Years topics under the left hand result filtering navigation.


There are a couple of elements of using the search worth knowing about. These are using the “free text search” field to get a set of results and then the filtering the results using the faceted or guided navigation.

The Free Text Search
You can use the Early Years search just like your were using was Google or BING.
If you want to harness the full potential you might want to keep in mind the following features the Early Years search provides to support your search experience:


Using Search terms to get exactly what you want

Whatever words you type into a search field are broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms: Single Terms and Phrases.


A Single Term is a single word such as "Early" or "Years".


A Phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as "Early Years".


Multiple terms can be combined together with Boolean operators to form a more complex query.

Examples:

  • Searching for Early could result in 35 hits (items contain the word Early)
  • Searching for Years results in 123 hits (items contain the word Years)
  • Searching for Early Years (without quotes) results in 148 hits (items contain the words Early or Years or both)
  • Searching for Early AND Years results in 10 hits (results contain both words Early and Years)
  • Searching for "Early Years" (with quotes) results in 7 hits (items contain the words Early and Years directly after each other)
  • Searching for title:Early results in 5 hits (items contain the word Early in the title)
  • Searching for title:Years results in 14 hits (items contain the word Years in the title)
  • Searching for +title:Early +title:Years or title:"Early Years" results in 2 hits (both items contain both words Early and Years in the title)

Special Characters

The Early Years Search supports escaping special characters that are part of the query syntax. The current list special characters are

+ - && || ! ( ) { } [ ] ^ " ~ * ? : \

Wildcard Searches

The Early Years Search supports single and multiple character wildcard searches within single terms (not within phrase queries). Note: You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search.

  • To perform a single character wildcard search use the "?" symbol.
  • The single character wildcard search looks for terms that match that with the single character replaced. For example, to search for "text" or "test" you can use the search:te?
  • To perform a multiple character wildcard search use the "*" symbol.
  • Multiple character wildcard searches looks for 0 or more characters. For example, to search for test, tests or tester, you can use the search: test
  • You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term: te*t

Fuzzy Searches

The Early Years Search supports fuzzy searches based on the Levenshtein Distance, or Edit Distance algorithm. To do a fuzzy search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Single word Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "Early" use the fuzzy search: Early~. This search will find items containing terms like Early and Earlyplane, but also aid.

The Early Years Search supports specifying the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example: Early~0.8 The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.

Proximity Searches
The Early Years Search supports finding words that are within a specific distance away. To do a proximity search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Phrase. For example to search for "Early" and "Years" within 10 words of each other in a document use the search: "Early Years"~10

Boosting a Term
The Early Years Search provides the relevance level of matching documents based on the terms found. To boost a term use the caret, "^", symbol with a boost factor (a number) at the end of the term you are searching. The higher the boost factor, the more relevant the term will be. Boosting allows you to control the relevance of a document by boosting its term. For example, if you are searching for Early Years and you want the term "Early" to be more relevant, boost it using the ^ symbol along with the boost factor next to the term. You would type: Early^4 Years. This will make documents with the term Early appear more relevant. You can also boost Phrase Terms as in the example: "Early Years"^4 "water Years". By default, the boost factor is 1. Although the boost factor must be positive, it can be less than 1 (e.g. 0.2)

Boolean Operators
Boolean operators allow terms to be combined through logic operators. The Early Years Search supports AND, "+", OR, NOT and "-" as Boolean operators (Note: Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS).


  • The OR operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the OR operator is used. The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching document if either of the terms exist in a document. This is equivalent to a union using sets. The symbol || can be used in place of the word OR.
  • The AND operator matches documents where both terms exist anywhere in the text of a single document. This is equivalent to an intersection using sets. The symbol && can be used in place of the word AND.
  • The "+" or required operator requires that the term after the "+" symbol exist somewhere in a field of a single document.
  • The NOT operator excludes documents that contain the term after NOT. This is equivalent to a difference using sets. The symbol ! can be used in place of the word NOT. Note: The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term.

Filtering Your Search Results

Topic Filtering
Each item of content on the site has been grouped under one or a number of the main topics which are relevant to the Early Years subject matter. These are:

  • Pregnancy
  • 0-3 years
  • 3-5 years
  • 5-8 years


The Background topic is also included. These grouping are used to help organise the search results. The navigation on the left will show you how many of the search results are relevant to each of the topics.


By clicking on one of the topic links the search result will be filtered to show those relevant to the topic that has been selected. Multiple Topic filters can be selected to widen the search results.


Each Topic may have a number of its own sub-topics to further subdivide search results. An example set of sub-topics for the 0-3 Years section may include the following:

  • Inequalities in the early years
  • Nutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Child safety
  • Smoking in the home
  • Mental health and wellbeing


When a main Topic is selected other main Topics headings are replaced and only show the sub-topics of the Topic selected. 


Every time you choose to filter your results by Topic the filtered applied is shown in a grey band with a green square with a cross inside it next to it. To remove any unwanted filter just click on the cross.


Type Filtering
In addition to how results relate to a topic the navigation will allow you to group your search results around on the type of information that has been returned by your search.

 These types cover the following:

  • Information for the public
  • Evidence
  • Policy
  • Professional support


Each of these types may have a series of sub-topic which will be displayed when a Type link is selected.


For example the “Information for the Public” have the following sub categories to refine your search results showing the number of results next to the link:

  • Leaflet
  • Information Page
  • Website
  • Advice service
  • Video
  • Support group
  • Advert


Every time you choose to filter your results by Type the filtered applied is shown in a grey band with a green square with a cross inside it next to it. Multiple Type filters can be selected to widen the search results. To remove any unwanted filter just click on the cross.


When you select a main Type category any other Types are replaced by the sub-topics which relate to Type that has been selected.


You can remove the Type filter by clicking on the cross next to the Type category selected.