Quote Search Instructions

The new Search page uses a new database of quotations and a simplifed search syntax, but is more powerful than the previous version. Here are some brief instructions:

  • Quote: Enter a partial quotation here. Use one or more words in order, not necessarily from the beginning of the quotation. You can use the percent sign (%) as a wildcard character. Wildcards are assumed at the beginning and end. For example:
    • cabbage: Search for any quote containing the word "cabbage"
    • cabbage%head: Quotations containing "cabbage," some text, then "head"
    • life is: Quotations containing the phrase "life is"
  • Author: Enter the whole author's name, or part. Middle names are automatically accounted for. Examples:
    • adams: quotes by Douglas Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Scott Adams
    • douglas adams: quotes by Douglas Adams only
    • john kennedy: quotes by John F. Kennedy
    • j adams: quotes by John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Joey Adams
  • Both Quote and Author: If both are entered, only quotes matching the quote and author specified will be returned. Examples:
    • Quote: life and Author: adams: Quotes from authors named "Adams" and containing the word "life"
  • Collections: Select one or more collections to search. Results will be displayed in order by collection. Keep in mind that the same quotation may appear in two or more collections.

Tips for Better Searches

  • Searches are not case sensitive. Don't worry about capital letters.
  • Too many results? Use a more specific search. Use a two or three-word phrase instead of a single word.
  • Few or no results? Use a less specific search. Reduce your query to one or two words. Don't specify the author.
  • Spelling counts. Make sure you spell search terms correctly, especially author names.
  • Select specific collections. Add more collections to your search if you haven't found what you're looking for. Choose a specific collection or two to narrow down a large result.
  • Look for unique words. Searching for Hamlet's Soliloquy by searching for "to be" or "not" will overwhelm you with unrelated results. Searching for "tis nobler" or "outrageous fortune" will find the right result quickly.
  • We don't have every quotation. No Web site or book does. If you're looking for one specific item you may need to try several sources.