Search Tips

The search function, which is powered by Google, automatically returns results from the entire website, including Scientific Style and Format Online itself and the Chicago Style Q&A (a periodically updated feature that offers guidance on many issues related to those treated in The Chicago Manual of Style). If you are an individual or group subscriber with access to the My Manual features, you will also receive results from your Notes and Style Sheets and from the Forum. For your convenience, the search results are separated into four tabbed pages: Scientific Style and Format, Chicago Style Q&A, Notes & Style Sheets, and Forum. You can review the results of your search from any one of these four parts of the website simply by clicking on the corresponding tab.

Scientific Style and Format and these other components of the site are fully searchable except for certain special characters and examples that are presented as in-line graphics.

Choosing Keywords

For best results, choose your search keywords wisely. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Try the most specific term first. For example, if you are looking for information on use of commas, enter comma rather than punctuation; the latter will return a long list of results, including many items unrelated to commas.
  • If you are searching for a general rule rather than a specific term, choose words likely to appear on the relevant page. For example, if you are trying to find out whether to capitalize the titles of government officials, search for a term such as president or governor that is likely to be shown as an example of this rule.

Refined Searches

The search function works essentially like that on the Google search engine. It automatically returns a list of all pages on the site that include all of your search terms, so there is no need to include and between terms. To refine or narrow a search that has returned many results, consider the following options:

  • Add more terms to your search; this will return a smaller list of results. For example, if you need to find out when to set parentheses in italics, parentheses italics returns a more targeted list of results than parentheses alone.
  • Put quotation marks around terms that consist of multiple words so the search function will list only paragraphs including those exact strings of words. For example, if you want to find rules for citing a series editor, “series editor” returns results for this term only, while series editor returns a list of all paragraphs including both series and editor.

Word Variations

To provide the most accurate results, the search function looks for exactly the term or terms that you enter in the search box and not for any variations, such as plural forms of singular terms (or singular forms of plural terms). For example, a search for hyphen will not yield results for hyphens or hyphenation. The search function also does not support “wildcard” searches (such as hyphen* in the preceding example).

Case Sensitivity

Searches are not case sensitive. For example, searches for united states navy, United States Navy, and United STAtes nAvy will all return the same results.

Automatic Exclusion of Common Words

The search function will not allow you to search for terms on Google’s list of “stopwords”—very common English words that would return a large and not particularly helpful collection of hits. Most of these words are articles (a, the), conjunctions (and, or), prepositions (into, by), and pronouns (she, her).