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OCLC Support

Phrase search

Discover how to perform a phrase search when searching WorldCat indexes.


The system searches for complete data in an indexed subfield.

Index label format

xx= (where x represents an alphanumeric character)


  • Personal name phrase — pn=james, henry
  • Publisher phrase — pb=namgyal institute of tibetology


  • You can perform either an anchored or unanchored search; however, the two types cannot be combined.
    • Anchored search — Use the equal sign (=) after the index label to search for a phrase. The system searches for only these words. This phrase search look for a match in a field or subfield that contains only those words. For example, if you search for ti=the cat who walked by himself, the system would return records with the following titles:
      • The Cat Who Walked By Himself (OCLC number 503640980; the phrase is the title)
      • The Elephant's Child; The Beginning of the Armadillo; How the Whale Got Its Throat; The Cat Who Walked By Himself (OCLC number 7750498; the phrase is a variant title)
      • Just So Stories (OCLC number 9266084; the phrase is in the table of contents as a title subfield)
    • Unanchored search — Enclose search terms in quotation marks to retrieve records with that phrase in any field or subfield. The field or subfields may contain only those words or there can be words before and/or after the phrase. For example, if you searched for ti:"the cat who walked by himself", then the system would return records found in the ti= search and records where the phrase is embedded in a field with other words, such as:
      • I am the cat who walks by himself (OCLC number 666007537)
  • Include all subfield data or truncate using the asterisk (*).
    Example: pb=namgyal institut*
    Alternative: Browse for the phrase [sca] pb=namgyal institute
  • Connexion — use the scan (sca) command in a command line search
  • FirstSearch — use the browse button (FirstSearch browse button) to enter a browse term. Browsing automatically truncates phrases. See Combine, qualify, expand searches for more information.
  • For punctuation:
    • Retain periods in classification numbers
    • Omit initial articles in titles
    • Retain the first comma for personal name indexes if it is not the last element in the subfield
    • Retain hyphens in dates
    • Enclose the search in quotations to force the search to retrieve records with that phrase in any field or subfield
    • Omit other punctuation
  • For hyphenated words:
    • Connexion — Substitute a space for the hyphen (system treats as two words). If searching a word index rather than a phrase index, enclose the two parts of the hyphenated word in quotation marks to find the words together in sequence.
    • FirstSearch/WorldCat Discovery/WorldShare — Enter the hyphen or substitute a space. The system searches for the two words next to each other.