Seattle City Clerk's Office Information Services Tips on Searching

Enter words which express the subject of your query. Your search terms will be matched with words in the parts of documents in the database corresponding to the label on the form box.

Forming a Search Query

Connect two or more words with and to retrieve documents which contain all of your search terms. Connect terms with or to retrieve items which contain any of a list of alternative terms. Connect terms with adj to retrieve items which connect terms adjacent and in that order.

Examples: rat or mouse : Retrieves items containing either word
         rat and mouse : Retrieves items containing both words
          wood adj rat : Retrieves items containing both words in 
                         that order and adjacent

Other search operators: Use near to connect words occurring in the same sentence and in any order. You can modify this operator for more precise results: the operator near3 will retrieve documents containing the two connected terms within three words of one another. Use with to connect words appearing in the same sentence. Use same to retrieve documents that contain the second search term in the same paragraph as the first term.

You may enter search terms in more than one form box for a query. The terms are logically connected by the "default operator" setting at the bottom of the search screen.

Searching for Phrases

Enclose words in quotes if you want to search on words occurring as a phrase.

Example:  "land use" : Retrieves docs containing that phrase

Special Words

Certain common words (stopwords) are not included in the database system's internal indexes. If you include them in a search query you will get misleading results.

Example: "Chamber of Commerce" will retrieve no documents because "of"
         is a stopword.  Instead,  use  the  query  "chamber commerce".

Special characters

? : matches any single character

$ : matches any ending to the word root

Examples: theat?? : matches theater or theatre
          theat$  : matches theater, theatre, theatrical, etc.

Index Terms

The most recent legislation (ordinances 1992-present, resolutions 1991-present) is indexed with terms from the City Clerk's thesaurus. Using index terms in a search query may increase the precision of your search, especially when words expressing subjects are not present in document titles.

View Thesaurus

Restricting a Search to a Database Field

Sometimes is is helpful to restrict a search to a certain part of a database record, or "field." The labeled boxes in the search forms allow some field-specific searching, but more flexibility is possible. For instance, it is possible to retrieve all City Council Resolutions sponsored by Councilmember Jim Street by entering the following in the "Words anywhere" box of the Resolution database search form:


The search term is followed by a dot, the field code, and another dot. To use this technique you need to know the field names for the database you are searching.

Field names for:

Last revised 10/08/01