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What to Do If Advanced Search Doesn't Locate What You Need

You can use the following tips to troubleshoot problems with Word's Advanced Search feature.

It's easy to make a mistake in designing a search and get results that aren't quite what you wanted—or an error message. If that happens, check your search with these troubleshooting questions:

  • Did you forget to add one criterion to the list by clicking Add to List?

  • Are your values correct? Word may not care whether you were brought up well, but it will care if you incorrectly spell a keyword or other search value.

  • Are your ands and ors correct? Be aware that order matters. These two similar-looking searches return different results:

  • Search 1:

    Author includes the words Stewart.

    Creation date today.

    OR: Keywords includes the words Jones.

    Search 2:

    Creation date today.

    OR: Keywords includes the words Jones.

    AND: Author includes the words Stewart.

    In the first search, a file created last year whose keywords include Jones will be found. In the second search, Word first locates files created today and files with the keyword Jones, but then eliminates all those files except the ones authored by Stewart.

  • Are any of your search criteria mutually contradictory? Have you asked for files created after June 1st and before February 24th? No such files exist, of course, and Word usually flags the mistake with an error message. More subtly, have you asked for files that could exist, but are unlikely to? For example, have you asked for files saved on certain dates by someone who was on vacation at the time, or files created today that have been edited for more than 20 hours?

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