Developing a Natural Language Search

What is Natural Language searching?

When you search using the natural language feature, you can enter a search in plain English, without having to use any special terms or connectors. The natural language feature's document relevance ranking gives you quick access to the most pertinent documents in your search results. A typical search with natural language might be:

Under what circumstances can biological parents regain custody of adopted children after an adoption?

Note: Wildcard characters such as ! and * are not valid in natural language searches.

The natural language feature works best when you:

  • Need to research general or conceptual issues, rather than very specific topics
  • Don't know much about an issue except for a few basic terms
  • Are researching a complex issue and can't construct an effective search using terms and connectors
  • Don't feel comfortable writing search requests using terms and connectors
  • Want to supplement a terms and connectors search to ensure thorough results

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