Wikipedia has an extremely powerful search engine built in, which can be used to locate material on Wikipedia more easily and more precisely than well known external web search engines such as Google and Yahoo!.

The search box is located at the top right on every page on the standard Wikipedia skin (Vector). It will take you to the article that matches your query; otherwise it displays the search results. To display the full search results, click on the last item in drop-down list (which says «⧼vector-simplesearch-containing⧽»), or perform an empty search. The direct link for the advanced interface is Special:Search.

You can also search directly from your Web Browser.

Search results page


The default search only applies to the Mainspace, where articles are stored. When searching for articles, a box on the right of the search results page shows the most relevant results from our sister projects, such as Wiktionary, Wikisource and Wikibooks. Other types of content pages can be searched by selecting an option from the grey search types box below the search input box.

If Multimedia is selected, you can search images, videos and songs stored on Wikipedia or විකිමාධ්‍ය කොමන්ස්. This option will search their file names and descriptions.

If Help and Project pages is selected, you can search the "Help" and "Wikipedia" namespaces. These namespaces contain help pages, Wikipedia guidelines and policies, and all pages used for administration and maintenance of the site. If you have a specific question about Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Questions for where to find answers.

If Everything is selected, you can search all namespaces.

To search in any subset of namespaces, click Advanced on the search form. A quicker way to search a single namespace is to type the namespace, a colon, then the search term in the search box, for example Wikipedia:Verifiability returns search results for verifiability in the Wikipedia namespace.

Registered users can modify the default namespace to search in "My Preferences". They can also choose how much context and how many hits per page to display when viewing search results. See Help:Preferences for more information.


පෙළ</nowiki>/gallery> </gallery> ion pages== Navigation pages will attempt to guide you to the correct article. You may encounter two types of these pages when searching for a topic.

You may type in something like Plaque, that takes you to a list of the many things that you could mean by it. This type of page is called a disambiguation page, and it's there to make things easier for you. Such a page prevents you from having to guess the exact phrase used to identify each page.
Some things can be referred to by many names. The Flag of the United States, for instance, could be called the American Flag, the US Flag, or many similar things. Searching is set up so that if you search for any of those terms, you will be "redirected" to the proper place. If instead of being redirected you are taken to a search menu, then you have searched for a phrase that has not been set up to redirect to an article. In such a case, you may look through the search results for an appropriate topic, try searching for an alternative spelling or name for the term, or try something related like Flag or USA. Once you have found what you were looking for, consider adding redirect pages for the expressions that you tried that did not lead to an article because chances are that you are not the only one thinking about the topic in this way. Thus, in doing so you will make life easier for those who later search for the term.

Search engine features


The internal search engine can search for parts of page titles or page title prefixes, and in specific categories and namespaces. It can also limit a search to pages with specific words in the title or located in specific categories or namespaces. It can handle parameters an order of magnitude more sophisticated than most external search engines, including user-specified words with variable endings and similar spellings. When presenting results, the internal search understands and will link to relevant sections of a page (although to a limited degree some other search engines may do this as well).

The internal search is also able to search all pages for project purposes, whereas external search engines cannot be used on any talk page, a large part of projectspace, and any page tagged as noindex.

The source text (what one sees in the edit box) is searched. This distinction is relevant for piped links, for interlanguage links (to find links to Chinese articles, search for zh, not for Zhongwen), special characters (if ê is coded as &ecirc; it is found searching for ecirc), etc. To find a word or phrase that is the same as an article title, prefix a "-"; otherwise you will go directly to the article of that title, when what you want are the list of articles with that word or phrase. e.g. "-timeline".

Upper and lower case as well as some umlauts and accents are disregarded in search. For example, a search for citroen will find pages containing the word Citroën (c = C, e = ë). Some ligatures match the separate letters. For example, a search for aeroskobing will find pages containing Ærøskøbing (ae = Æ).

The following features can be used to refine searches:

  • Phrases in double quotes - A phrase can be searched by enclosing it in double quotes. For example, "holly dolly" returns very few results as opposed to holly dolly (two standalone words).
  • Boolean search - By default logical AND is applied to all search terms, just as on all major search engines. Parentheses and "OR" can also be used. For example windows OR system and combined: microsoft (windows OR system) (note the uppercase OR).
  • Exclusion - Terms can be excluded with -, for example windows  -system (note there is no space between "-" and the excluded term). This search form is helpful in finding misspelled words across Wikipedia e.g "similiar -similar" (used without the quote marks) returns all articles where the first spelling -- the misspelling -- has been used.
  • Wildcard search - Wildcards (characters taking the place of any other character or string that is not known or specified) can be prefixed and suffixed, for example, the query "*stan" will produce articles like Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.
  • Fuzzy search - Adding a tilde (~) at the end of a search word matches words with similar spelling. For example, searching for james~ watt~ identifies James Watt, James Wyatt, and James Watts as the first three search results.
  • intitle: - using the intitle: parameter, query results can be narrowed by title. The search word(s) given to intitle: can be anywhere in the title. Example searches using intitle:
Query Result
intitle:airport All articles with airport in their title.
intitle:international airport Articles containing international and airport in their title (including World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic).
parking intitle:airport Articles with "airport" in their title and "parking" in their text
intitle:"international airport"   Articles containing the exact expression "international airport" in their title.
  • incategory: - using the incategory: parameter returns pages in a given category (as long as the pages are directly categorized, and not transcluded through templates). This feature doesn't return pages in subcategories. Note that, for category names that contain a space, either the space must be replaced with an underscore or the category name must be surrounded by double quotes for the search to be effective.

    For more on using categories to find articles, see Wikipedia:FAQ/Categories. Example searches using incategory:

Query Result
ammonia incategory:German_chemists Articles containing the text "ammonia" among pages in Category:German chemists.
incategory:"Suspension bridges in the United States" incategory:"Bridges in New York City"   Articles that are common to both categories — the suspension bridges in New York City.
  • prefix: - use the prefix: parameter to limit the results to article titles starting with the given characters. If a namespace is also given to prefix:, that page name will override any and all other namespace searches. Prefix: should be the last parameter in the query. See also, Special:PrefixIndex. Example searches using prefix:
Query Result
Salvage wreck prefix:USS Articles containing the words salvage and wreck whose title starts with the characters "USS".
prefix:Help:Contents/ Subpages of Help:Contents. Note that subpages are never used on the main encyclopedia.
"portal namespace" readers prefix:Wikipedia talk:   Discussions of any page in the Wikipedia namespace page having the word readers and the phrase portal namespace.
ocean heat reservoir prefix:Talk:Earth/Archive Any archived discussion with the words heat and ocean and reservoir.
language prefix:Portal:Chi Portal namespace page names that begin with "Portal:Chi" and have the word language in the page.
  • all: prefix allows for a quick search in all namespaces, while canonical namespaces prefixes allow for a quick search in particular namespace, for example template:wrong
  • Avoiding automatic direction to page - Adding a tilde (~) at the beginning of a search word allows one to do a search for a word or name across Wikipedia rather than being directed or redirected automatically to an article or disambiguation page. This is helpful if the search doesn't yield the first result "There is a page named "[subject]" on Wikipedia: For search help, please visit Help:Searching" and then a full search below.

Using the search to directly get to a page


When using the search to directly get to a page, it doesn't matter whether you enter capitals or lower case letters (unless there are two article titles which differ only in capitalization). Umlauts and accents are also disregarded, but ligatures do not match the separate letters.

Specialized uses of the search to directly get to a page include the following:

  • To navigate to a section of a page using anchor notation. For example, Poland#History.
  • To navigate to a special page, including one with a parameter following a slash. For example, Special:Log/Example.
  • To navigate directly to a page on another language Wikipedia or Wikimedia project, using the appropriate interwiki prefix; some other prefixes work too. For example, enter fr:France to go to the article "France" on French Wikipedia, or wikt:help to see the Wiktionary entry for the word "help".
  • To go quickly to the user contributions of an IP address – just enter the address. For example,

Specialist searches


Special:LinkSearch is a tool for searching for external links from Wikipedia pages to sites outside Wikipedia. For example, all Wikipedia pages linking to

External search engines – see Wikipedia:External search engines and Wikipedia:Tools#Searching

Other languages – for searching other language editions of Wikipedia see and the links above.

Toolserver - there are multiple tools on Toolserver, most notably:

  • Grep — search pages titles using regexps.
  • CatScan — powerful search using categories, included templates, etc.


If you cannot find what you are looking for


If you're looking for a city in ප්‍රංශය but don't remember the right spelling of Bordeaux, go first to a similar entity, such as Paris. Find the next higher entity, such as the article on ප්‍රංශය or the Category:Cities in ප්‍රංශය, from where you can easily find Bordeaux.

For an overview of how to find and navigate Wikipedia content, see Portal:Contents. If you're looking for a straight definition of a word, try our sister project Wiktionary.

If there is no appropriate page on Wikipedia, consider creating a page, since you can edit Wikipedia right now. Or consider adding what you were looking for to the Requested articles page.

If you have a question, then see Where to ask questions, which is a list of departments where our volunteers answer questions, any question you can possibly imagine.

Delay in updating the search index


For reasons of efficiency and priority, recent changes are not always immediately taken into account in searches. The index is typically updated every morning GMT. If you see the index lagging more than a couple of days, report it. For other technical issues with the search engine, please leave a message on the talk page.

සැකිල්ල:Help desk searches

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