How to Search

Basic and Advanced Search

You can search the Princeton Prosody Archive by clicking “Archive” in the upper righthand corner of the website header. When search fields are empty, all of the items in the Archive are displayed below. To begin a search, enter your term(s) in the Keyword or Phrase field, or click “Advanced Search” to search in the Title and Author fields. Enter a search term or phrase into one or more of these three fields.

  • Keyword or Phrase - Searches the full text and metadata of the Archive. If you know an approximate title, search for it here in quotation marks. (Important note on quotation marks: The Keyword or Phrase field uses Solr-powered aggressive stemming to return similar individual keywords, such as anapest and anapestic, whether or not you use quotation marks. If you search for a phrase in quotation marks, such as “anapestic meter,” it will return results with both of those words next to each other in that order, as well as stemmed variations like “anapest meter.” If you search a phrase without quotation marks, it will return many more results that match either or any of those words. If you want to look around a bunch of stuff, don’t use quotation marks.)
  • Title - Searches the title and subtitle metadata only. If you know an exact title, search for it here in quotation marks.
  • Author - Searches the author metadata only. If you know an exact author, search for them here by “last name, first name” in quotation marks.

Boolean search within a field is supported:

  • Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase. (Note: You may need to turn off Smart Punctuation if you are using iPhone or iPad.)
  • Operators (AND, OR, NOT) must be capitalized.
  • Parentheses can be used to combine operators.

If you enter multiple search terms or phrases in a single field, the search will return all items that match ANY of those terms. If you enter search terms in more than one field, the search will return only those items that match ALL of those terms.

The search is automatically submitted after text is entered or other changes are made. Clearing your search terms must be done manually. A red dot next to “Advanced Search” indicates if any Advanced Search filters are active.

Result Sorting

By default, results are sorted by relevance when a search term is entered, so items with more matches will be listed first. The search index has been configured so that matches in certain fields are considered more relevant. Matches in the author field have the highest relevance, then matches in title, followed by matches in subtitle and notes, and finally full-text matches. Exact versions of search terms and exact phrase matches are considered more relevant than partial word matches.

Search Within Volume

To search within an item in the results list, click on the record above the page images (the title, author, etc.) or hover over the item and click on “see more details” which will appear on the right-hand side. This will take you to the item page and allow you to search within that particular volume. This works the same way for both Hathi and ECCO sourced materials.

To see the full-page image in more detail, you must exit the PPA to the original source database by clicking on the thumbnail image. For HathiTrust materials, a new tab will open to the page image in HathiTrust. For ECCO primary sources, a new tab will open and you will be prompted to login with your institutional affiliation in order to view the page in ECCO. If you do not have an institutional subscription, you will not be able to access the ECCO materials in ECCO, but you can still search and access them via the item record method in the PPA (described above).


You can use the Publication Date and Collections fields to narrow your search results.

  • To narrow by Publication Date, type in a sequential four-digit year between 1559 and 1926 in the minimum and maximum boxes. To search a single year, enter the same year in both fields. If date fields are left blank, results are not filtered by date; the input will display the range of dates in the Archive (1559-1926). The histogram shows the distribution of publication dates for your search results.
  • You can choose which Collections are included in your search by clicking anywhere on the collection to deselect or select them. If more than one collection is selected, the search will return items that belong to ANY of the selected collections. To view all of the items within a single collection, exclude all other collections and do not enter any search terms. Excluded collections appear in white on the second row. All active collections are automatically included in your search, except for Dictionaries and Word Lists, which are excluded by default in order to avoid extraneous matches with mere lists of words found in reference material.

Power User Features

Advanced Solr Syntax

The PPA uses Apache Solr as its search platform, which allows for the following syntax in the first three search fields:

  • A single word search term or a multi-word search phrase inside quotation marks. (Note: as described above, Solr supports word stemming; for example, flower will return flowers, flowering, and flowered.)
  • Wildcard searches using ? to substitute for a single character in a search term and * to substitute for multiple characters. (Note: A search term may not begin with ? or *)
  • Fuzzy searches using ~ at the end of a search term to find words with a similar spelling. (Note: You can also manage how specific or “fuzzy” the search is by adding a number between 0 (less specific) and 1 (more specific) after the tilde; e.g., rhythm~0.8)
  • Proximity searches between two or more search terms using quotations, a tilde, and a number; e.g., “iamb meter pentameter”~10 will return all items with those three search terms within 10 words of each other.

For more guidance, please see Apache Lucene Query Parser Syntax.

Fielded Searches in Keyword

The Keyword field supports fielded searches of the following metadata fields:

  • title
  • subtitle
  • author
  • enumcron (HathiTrust term for volume)
  • publication date [use pub_date]
  • publication place [use pub_place]
  • publisher
  • source id [use source_id] (unique HathiTrust or Gale identification number)

Enter the lower-case field type, a colon, and your search term without any spaces after the colon. If you are entering multiple search terms, you can use quotes for exact phrase, or parentheses to match EITHER term. See the examples below: