Search help

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Default search behaviour

The following apply to all searches:

Basic search

Enter a keyword or control number in the basic search box.

For example:

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

For example:

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

For example:

Poor: “What can I learn by taking the Canadian firearms safety course?”
Better: “firearms safety course”

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. Use as many search terms or identifying numbers as you want, selecting “and” or “or” from the drop-down menu in between each.

All of these words

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

For example:

A search for “atlantic tuna catch” will give search results containing all of the words “atlantic,” “tuna” and “catch” in any order.

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.

For example:

A search for “atlantic tuna catch” will only give search results containing “atlantic tuna catch” together as a phrase.

Any of these words

Enter keywords in the text box.

For example:

A search for “atlantic OR tuna OR catch” will give search results containing any or all of the words “atlantic,” “tuna” and “catch.”

Like these words

Select the “Find variations of search terms” option. The search engine will return results that match part of your terms.

For example:

A search for “running” will give search results for “runs,” “runner” and “run.”

By date

Select a range to get results by year of publication or year of acquisition.

Advanced search operators

A search operator is a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search.

You may use the following search operators in the basic search form:


A wildcard search uses the first few letters of a word (word stem) combined with an asterisk (*) to find related word matches that start with the same letters.

For example:

Atlantic tu* gives search results containing “atlantic tuna” as well as any title containing both “atlantic” and “tu” such as Recovery Strategy for the Leatherback Turtle in Atlantic Canada.


Use either a minus sign (-) or NOT before a term you wish to exclude from your search.

For example, to find search results with titles matching tuna but not matching atlantic, enter either:

  • Tuna -atlantic
  • tuna NOT atlantic


Certain spacing and use of quotation marks may result in errors or incomplete search results.

To avoid these known issues, do not include either:

  • quotation marks around your search operators
  • a space after the minus sign

Boolean search

The following logical operators are available for a Boolean search:

  • AND also designated by a period (.)
    • results contain both keywords
    • note: there must be a space before and after the period for the search to work properly
    • example: Canada . hockey
      • gives search results containing both Canada and hockey
  • OR
    • results contain at least one of the keywords
    • example: federal OR provincial
      • gives search results containing federal, provincial or both
  • NOT also designated by the minus sign (-) and applying only to the keyword to the right of the minus sign
    • results will not contain this keyword
    • note: You must include a space in front of the minus sign and no space after the minus sign for the search to work properly,
    • example: -pension
      • gives search results that do not contain pension
  • Brackets ( )
    • keywords inside the brackets ( ) are searched first, followed by those outside of the brackets
    • example: (Canada OR hockey) . (goal OR summit)
      • evaluates the expression Canada or hockey first, then goal or summit and finds results common to both expressions

Search results

The search results page will display the first 25 records that match your search criteria best. You may adjust the settings to view up to 100 records at a time.

Each result will display the following information:

The search results are sorted by relevance. You can change the sort order of your search results by selecting one of the following Sort by options on the search results page:

Select the publication title for a detailed catalogue record.

If you want to change your search criteria, select “Modify this search.” This will display your previous search criteria. You can then change your criteria and run your search again.

Help with file formats

If you have trouble opening a file, explore programs used to open specific file formats.

Bookmarking results

When you select from the list of search results, you will link to a catalogue record describing the publication.

Written near the top of each record is “Permanent link to this catalogue record.” This is the Persistent Uniform Resource Locator.

The persistent locator is a distinct web address that acts as a permanent location for the record. While the record’s actual location may change over time, the persistent locator does not. Using a persistent locator link to bookmark the record greatly reduces the chance that the link will break over time.

In contrast, the URL displayed in your browser is not a permanent link. We recommend that you do not bookmark the record using this address.

Bookmarking serial titles

Records displaying a "Browse issue records" link are master records for monographic-serial titles. To bookmark these resources using the Persistent Uniform Resource Locator:

  • link to the catalogue record for serial titles using the master record
  • link to the individual issue catalogue record

Records displaying a "View master record" link are serial issue records. You may access serial issue records through the "Browse issue records" link. In the case of electronic periodicals, you may access the electronic issues of the publication from the catalogue record.

Print-only publications

Government of Canada Publications has transitioned to an electronic model. Some publications continue to be made available in print or alternate formats. We suggest that you contact the authoring department for more information.

If you are looking for an older print publication, you can also contact your local library or Library and Archives Canada.

If you are unable to find what you’re looking for, please contact Government of Canada Publications.

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