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The Search site box at the top right of each web page is a basic search covering most parts of the website. Selecting 'Go' takes you to the search results page with a larger 'Search for' box and options to help narrow your search. This page offers practical advice to help you find exactly what you are looking for on the Surrey County Council website.

Select an index link below to jump to an answer within this page:

  1. Why can't I find what I am looking for?
  2. Does it matter what search term I use?
  3. Does it make a difference if I use upper or lower case for my search terms?
  4. Should I use one or several words when I search?
  5. I need more search options
  6. Can I use things like * when I search?
  7. Why do I get the following text when I search this site: 'You may choose to use one of these specialist searches'?
  8. Why does the search sometimes say that my search has been expanded to use other spellings that are not relevant?
  9. Quick links guide to help you find some specific information on the website
  10. If all else fails

1. Why can't I find what I am looking for?

There could be a number of reasons why your search has not found the information that you were looking for and we suggest you try a number of different search techniques:

If there are too few results or no results at all:

  • Try selecting 'Any words' under the Search for box on the search page as this will increase the number of results by searching individual words in your search rather than all of them.

If there are too many results:

  • Try selecting 'Exact phrase' under the Search for box on the search page. Alternatively, you can use the Refine your results box on the right to look for results in particular subject areas of the website.

If the results are not relevant:

  • Check your spelling and try to think of another word or phrase that exactly sums up what you are looking for.
  • Still no luck? Read the following suggestions on this page and if they don't help, please see: our Quick links guide or If all else fails.

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2. Does it matter what search term I use?

Yes, it can matter. You should always use a word or phrase that means exactly what you are looking for. For example, searching the word 'training' would list a lot of results but if you search 'parent training', that is a more specific search term and will help you find a more relevant match. Similarly, if you search 'manager', this could refer to many managers, so Epsom library manager, is a more exact term. However, searching for walks around Ewell may not find any relevant results but walks in Surrey will give you a number of options. Try variations of your search until you find what you are looking for.

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3. Does it make a difference if I use upper or lower case for my search terms?

No, either upper or lower case yield the same results.


4. Should I use one or several words when I search?

If you use a specific search term such as Pound Lane footpath, this will not find relevant information if that footpath is not listed on the website but if you search footpath, you will then get other options such as the Rights of Way Interactive map to help you find your footpath or Public Rights of Way notices to help you check if the footpath you are looking for is closed. If you want to use several words, it is best to select 'Any words' as this will then pick up on instances of any of the words you have used.

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5. I need more search options

Once you select Go beside the Search site… box in the header of the website, you will come to a search results page that includes a search box and below the Search for box are these search options:

  • All words – this searches for all the words in your search phrase but not necessarily together or in the order you have put them.
  • Any words – this searches for individual words in your search phrase.
  • Exact phrase – this searches for the exact words of your search phrase in the order you have put them.

Other options to help you find what you are looking for:

  • Refine your results box – this lists your search results by the main subject areas of the website with a number beside the section headings tell you how many results have been found in each section.
  • You can use special charactersto narrow your results.
  • You can search in specialist databases.
  • You can use the website A-Z.

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6. Can I use things like * when I search?

When you use the simple search (at the top of the website), you can use punctuation, as follows:

  • Use an asterisk (*) for wildcard searching. For example, searching upon: plan* would find many words beginning with 'plan', such as 'planning', 'plans' and 'planned'. Of course, you will have a greater chance of finding what you want if you combine this type of search with something more specific. For example, you may be searching for details of 'waste planning'. Using the search term: waste plan* may help you to find the information
  • Use plus (+) or minus (-) to increase or decrease the importance of a word in your search term. For example, you can search for: +canal -paths. This would give more emphasis to the word 'canal', over 'paths', in your search results.
  • Place a phrase within double quotes (""), to look for an exact phrase rather than instances of individual words on the same page. For example, you may be looking for youth clubs in Guildford but an exact search of the words 'youth clubs Guildford' may not work. However, a search for: "youth clubs" as the exact phrase and Guildford outside the quotes (e.g. "youth clubs" Guildford), will then search for instances of the words youth clubs together and Guildford as an additional word on the page.

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7. Why do I get the following text when I search: 'You may choose to use one of these specialist searches'?

At the bottom of each page of search results, or if you have no search results at all, you will see the option 'You may choose to use one of these specialist searches' with a list of links below. These are links to our separate specialist databases, such as Adult learning classes, that giving you the option of searching for an Adult learning course. The contents of these databases are not included in our standard search.

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8. Why does the search sometimes say that my search has been expanded to use other spellings that are not relevant?

Our search engine includes other spellings to widen the search. These may not be relevant in some instances but it can be useful if a search term has been incorrectly spelt. If you know your search term is correct, you can use Exact phrase option to stop the alternative spellings from showing in your results.

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9. Quick links guide to help you find some specific information on the website

Are you looking for…


9. If all else fails…

If you have followed all of the advice above but still have not been able to find what you are looking for, please fill in our feedback form to let us know the search term you used and the information that you were looking for on our website. Alternatively, you can call our contact centre on 03456 009 009 and they can advise you if the information or service you are looking for is provided by your local borough or district council or another organisation.

Reporting missing information helps us to improve our website to meet your needs, so please let us know what you were looking for.

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  • Updated: 12 Mar 2013
  • Web and Digital Services
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Permalink: http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/?a=179415

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