Constructing a complex search query


If you want a more specific search, you can customise it by using search commands with your keywords.

Search commands are special words and symbols that help to refine search results. You can use a single search command or construct a complex combination.

Select from the list below, and enter with your keyword/s in the Search field.

Search commands


Get results that contain both of the words.

If you do not use any commands in your search, Trove will assume that you want to find things that have all of those words in them, and effectively puts an AND between each of your keywords.


  • Paul AND Kelly
  • Paul Kelly

Both of these examples will give you results that contain both of the words “paul” and “kelly”.


Get results that contain one or more of the words.


  • cat OR dog


Exclude items from your results that contain the word(s). A minus sign (-) can also be used in place of NOT.


  • cat NOT dog
  • cat -dog

Both of these examples will give you results that contain "cat" but do not contain "dog".

"quotation marks"

Get results containing a specific phrase, rather than separate words.


  • "Alfred Deakin"
  • "South Australia"

Note: You will get results with an exact match at the start of the results list (so long as the sort order is set to relevance). You will also get results for close (but not exact) matches, which will appear towards the bottom of the search results list. This is useful in finding articles where the content is not always accurate (such as OCR transcripts).

To get only exact matches, use the command fulltext - see below for more details.


Use brackets to group your search terms together, and combine search commands. Putting brackets around each set of search commands will improve your results.


  • “South Australia” AND (elections OR politics) NOT (Adelaide OR Kingston) 
  • (cats AND dogs) NOT rabbits
  • (cats dogs) -rabbits

These last two examples will give you the exact same results, as Trove will use AND where no command is given.


Get results from a certain date range.


  • date:[1920 TO 1930]


Get results created by a specific person (including authors, illustrators, editors, etc.)


  • creator:"Donald Norman"


Get results that match a subject heading in the Trove record.


  • subject:"cognitive psychology"


Get results that match the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).


  • isbn:9781922142436
  • issn:0421-3807


Get results that have been publicly tagged with specific keywords or phrases.


  • publictag:(sydney)
  • publictag:"clement wragge"


Get results held by a specific organisation, as identified by a National Union Catalogue (NUC) symbol.


  • nuc:QU (Held by QU but not QU:IR) 

  • nuc:"QU:IR" (Held by QU:IR. Note that the whole NUC symbol needs to be in quotation marks) 

  • nuc:QU* (Held by QU, QU:IR, and other NUC symbols starting with QU)

Tip: Search Trove's collection of digitised books and journals using nuc:"ANL:DL".


Get results that have tags or notes attached to them.


  • bundanoon has:tags
  • "humpty doo" has:notes
  • geelong NOT has:notes (Note: In this example, you can use NOT to find items without tags or notes)

~ (near)

Get results where keywords are found near each other, setting the 'distance' between your keywords.


  • "pioneer australia"~2

This example will give you results with the keywords 'pioneer' and 'australia' within two words of each other. 

* (wildcard)

Broaden your search to all keywords that start with the same characters. You must provide at least three characters before adding the asterisk.


  • math* tutor*

This example will give you results with words such as maths, mathematics, mathematical, tutor, tutors, tutorials - and many more.


Get results with words that match the exact spelling of your keywords and phrases. 


  • fulltext:deakes 

  • fulltext:"watchmaker and jeweller" 

  • fulltext:watchmaker fulltext:jeweller 

Tip: Combine this command with ~0 at the end of a phrase to find a very specific phrase: e.g. fulltext:"Mrs Mills"~0 


Get results with items that have been recently added or updated in Trove by adding lastupdated:[yyyy-mm-ddT00:00:00Z TO *] to your search. To search replace yyyy-mm-dd with the earliest date from which you would like to search.


  • lastupdated:[2020-02-14T00:00:00Z TO *]

Tip: By using this search term in the Newspapers & Gazettes category, you can find both newly-added articles and articles that have had their text recently corrected.

Searching for names containing common words

Searching for a name that contains common words can bring up unrelated results.

For example, entering the name "Fred Winter" in a basic search will bring up results including the word "winter" (ie the season) instead of the surname.

To help filter out unrelated results, you can use the following options:

1. Use quotation marks to make your keywords into a phrase and increase the chances of getting an exact match:


  • "Fred Winter"
  • "Pepper Potts"

2. Use the ~ (near) command to bring up results with a limited amount of words between your keywords:


  • "Fred Winter"~0

This increases the chances of getting results with only "Fred Winter".

  • "Fred Winter"~2

This increases the chances of getting results with a maximum of 2 words appearing between "Fred" and "Winter". This can be helpful to allow for results that may contain the person's middle name/s.

Note: There should be no space between the tilde ~ and the phrase.

This will eliminate many of the search results which are unrelated to names. Adding additional terms, such as place names will also help narrow your search.