Search help

Search Help

See also our tutorial video for the Earl Palmer Collection. Although the examples and screenshots are taken from that collection, the information largely pertains to all materials in the Theological Commons.

What am I searching?

  • When you select Keyword anywhere under the search box (the default option)
    • For textual formats (books, periodicals, theses, typewritten manuscripts) you are searching all data, including both the full text (every word on every page) and the metadata (bibliographic data such as title, author, date of publication, etc.)
    • For audio and video recordings accompanied by a textual transcript, you are searching both the full text and the metadata
    • For other audiovisual formats (audio or video without a transcript, photographs, postcards, maps, handwritten manuscripts) you are searching only the metadata
  • When you select Title you are searching only the title field of each item, regardless of format
  • When you select Author you are searching only the author name field of each item, regardless of format

Advanced Searching

  • Use double quotation marks for exact phrases. Two-word phrases are fastest.

    "early church"

    "holy spirit"

    Longer phrases are also possible, though they’re not as fast.

    "sermon on the mount"

  • Search for items containing all of the specified words:

    revelation apocalypse

    "new testament" apocrypha

    Alternatively, using AND returns identical results:

    revelation AND apocalypse

    "new testament" AND apocrypha

  • Search for items containing any of the specified words:

    covenant OR promise

    "king james" OR authorized

  • Use - (minus sign) to exclude words:

    missions -china

    (finds items containing missions and not containing china)

  • Use title: to search only within titles, name: to search only within author names, or no prefix to search the full text. Combine prefixes to search different fields simultaneously:

    jerome title:translation

    (finds items where the full text contains jerome and the title contains translation)

    title:psalms name:augustine

    (finds items where the title contains psalms and the author name contains augustine)

  • Combine the techniques above to compose arbitrarily complex queries, using parentheses as needed:

    ("old testament" OR "hebrew bible") AND (prophecy OR prophet)


  • With the exception of AND and OR, which must be entered in all capital letters, the search engine ignores case. Capitalizing proper names is harmless but unnecessary.
  • The search engine ignores diacritic marks in search keywords. For example, searching for Zöckler returns the same results as searching for Zockler.
  • The search engine also ignores punctuation characters.
  • The search engine utilizes stemming, meaning that other forms of the word are considered a match. For example, searching for the word justify returns items containing justify, justifies, justified, and justifying. The noun form justification is not considered a match.