W/n (Within n Words) Connector

Use the W/n connector to find documents with search words that appear within "n" words of each other. The value of "n" can be any number up to 255. Use W/n to join words and phrases that express parts of a single idea or to join closely-associated ideas.

Words or phrases linked by W/n must be in the same section (a specific part of a document). Either word may appear first.

Note: W/n connectors cannot be used in combination with W/s or W/p connectors.

For example, the following search requests documents in which both words appear in the same section, within three or fewer words of one another.

richard W/3 branson

It retrieves documents containing the words Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, Richard Branson and Branson, Richard.

Specifying the value of "n"

There is no magic formula for choosing the value of n, but these guidelines may prove useful:

Choose this...For search words to appear here...
W/3 - W/5in approximately the same phrase
W/15in approximately the same sentence
W/50in approximately the same paragraph
Tip: Although you may choose a number for n as large as 255, you may wish to choose a number less than 100. Choosing a number greater than 100 is likely to retrieve documents in which your search words are used in unrelated contexts.

Using Multiple W/n Connectors

If W/n connectors have the same number, they operate from left to right. If they have different numbers, the smaller number operates first. The following search finds "airport" within five words of "noise" and then "nuisance" within five words of either "airport" or "noise":

airport W/5 noise W/5 nuisance

The following search first looks for documents in which forms of the word "assign" appear within 5 words of "collateral," then finds occurrences of "lease" within 8 words of the forms of "assign":

lease W/8 assign! W/5 collateral

The search above finds documents that contain all 3 search terms, and the search terms would be within 13 searchable words of one another.

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