Does your query contain “special characters”?

That’s any of the following:

@ + # - _ / \ . , : = * ? ( ) [ ] $

Our search engine sometimes interprets these characters as “logical operators” rather than literal strings. For example, you might intend a : character in your query to be a colon. However, search may be interpreting it and the text around it as a field query. That will change what your query means to the search engine, and may affect the results.

In order to avoid this, do one of the following:

  1. Enclose your query in quotes, such that query becomes “query”.
  2. Enclose your query in the “no syntax block” notation, such that query becomes <@- query -@>. (Please note the spaces separating the notation from the query.)

This technique is often necessary when you’ve pasted an error message or log file entry straight into search.

Does your query contain “personal” information?

That could be a pathname that’s unique to your local computer, a server name that’s unique to your environment, or a user name that’s unique to your organization. Error messages sometimes contain such personalized information, such as:

Errors occurred while trying to load the workbook “c:\users\mikeb\mike’s files\reports\sales\april2017\US_sales.twbx” …

A query like this will never return a relevant article or community post. That’s because our writers cannot know what your pathname, server name or user name will be.

The solution is to pick the longest string from the error message likely to return a relevant document. In the case above, try searching on “Errors occurred while trying to load the workbook”. This is more specific than just “Errors occurred”, and is likely to save you time when scanning the search returns for the material you need. At the same time, it excludes the personalized information that will cause the search to fail.