Search tips

As part of our ongoing commitment to provide reliable search results, the Government of Canada has implemented a new search engine. The tips in this section will help you to use the new search tool to its fullest potential and to obtain the best search results possible. You may select one of the following topics for additional information:

Table of contents

Default search behavior

The following apply to all searches:
  • Search terms separated by spaces will give results that match all the terms in the query.
  • Searches are not case sensitive.
  • Other than those used for advanced searches, punctuation and special characters are ignored.
  • Common words like "the," "a," and "for," are usually ignored.
  • The search engine may perform word stemming in some instances to provide better results. For example: A search for the word paint will return search results containing the words paints, painter, painted.
  • When typing in the search field, the autocomplete feature will dynamically produce a list of search options.

Basic search

Select the search language from the toolbar at the top of the page. The basic search form and search results will appear in the language selected.

Enter a keyword, the name of a thing, place, or topic, in the basic search box.

Example:
  • service Canada locations
  • revenue Canada
  • prime minister

To narrow search results, or if you don't get the desired results, you can add additional related words.

Example:
  • First try: Canada
  • More precise: Canada jobs
  • Even more precise: Canada government jobs

Use only the important words rather than a full sentence or question.

Example:
  • Poor: What is the refugee policy for Canada?
  • Better: refugee policy Canada

To narrow down your search results, you can use either the Advanced search page or the Advanced search operators in the basic search form.

Advanced search

From the basic search page, select the advanced search link. Results will be given in the language selected.

All these words: Enter all of the words that you want to search in the text box.

Example:
  • A search for income tax form will give search results containing all of the words income, tax and form.

Exact word or phrase: Enter a word or exact phrase in the text box. Results will contain all words in the phrase together, located one after the other, exactly as entered.

Example:
  • income tax form will only give search results containing income tax forms together as a phrase.

Any of these words: Enter keywords in the text box.

Example:
  • A search for income tax form will give search results containing any or all of the words income or tax, or form.

None of these words: Enter any words to be excluded from the search results in the text box.

Example:
  • form will exclude possible results containing the word form from the search.

Last update: Select a timeframe to find pages updated within the specified time.

Example:
  • Anytime gives search results of pages updated at any time.
  • Past 24 hours gives search results of pages updated within the last 24 hours.
  • Past week gives search results of pages updated within the last week.
  • Past month gives search results of pages updated within the last month.
  • Past year gives search results of pages updated within the last year.

Site or domain: Enter a parameter in the site or domain text box. To limit your search to a particular department or agency, enter the URL for that particular institution.

Example:
  • www.canada.ca limits the search to all the pages in the site www.canada.ca
  • www.canada.ca/en/health limits the search to all the pages in the health directory
  • www.canada.ca/en/index.html limits the search to the specific page index.html
  • .ca limits the search to all pages in the .ca domain

Terms appearing: Select the part of the document to restrict the search to from the terms appearing drop down list box.

Example:
  • Anywhere in the page doesn't restrict the search to parts of the document.
  • In the title of the page limits the search to just the title part of the document.
  • In the URL of the page limits the search to just the URL of the document.
  • In the body of the page limits the search to just the body of the page.

Using advanced search operators in the basic search form

Exact phrase matching

Use quotation marks to obtain search results for an exact term or phrase.

Example:
  • "registered savings plan" returns search results containing the phrase registered savings plan.

Wildcards

Use the asterisk (*) as a substitute for a range of possible words, or words in a phrase.

Example:
  • "canada * websites" gives search results containing canada heritage websites, canada national monument websites, etc.

Boolean search

A Boolean search allows the use of logical expressions to search for information.

The following Boolean operators are available:
  • AND: designated by a period (.). Results contain both keywords.
  • OR: designated by the pipe symbol (|). Results contain at least one of the keywords.
  • NOT: designated by the minus sign (-). Results will not contain this keyword. This operator applies only to the keyword to the right of the minus sign.
  • Brackets: Keywords inside the brackets () are searched for first, followed by those outside of the brackets.
Example:
  • Canada . hockey gives search results containing Canada and hockey.
  • federal | provincial gives search results containing federal, provincial, or both.
  • -pension gives search results that do not contain pension.
  • (Canada | hockey) . (goal | summit) evaluates the expression canada or hockey first, then goal or summit and finds results common to both expressions.

Restrict search to page, site or domain

site:"domain, page, or site address" restricts a search to a single sub-domain, site, page, or parts of a site.

Example:
  • site:www.canada.ca limits the search to all the pages in the site canada.ca.
  • site:www.canada.ca/en/health limits the search to all the pages in the health directory.
  • site:www.canada.ca/en/index.html limits the search to the specific page index.html.
  • site:.ca limits the search to all pages in the .ca domain.

Restrict document search to file format

When searching for documents only, use filetype:query to restrict search results to documents with a particular file extension.

The search query should be formatted as filetype:EXTENSION, with no space between the filetype and the specified extension.

Example:
  • Canada filetype:pdf will return all PDF documents containing the word Canada.
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