How to Use Wikipedia's Search Function

Find the precise information you need

A man using Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts on a laptop computer.

Maskot

 

With over 9 million articles, Wikipedia is one of the largest sources of information online. Fortunately, the Wikipedia website features a rather effective search tool in the upper-right corner of every page that can be used to search for general terms and exact phrases.

Using the Wikipedia Search Engine

Using the built-in search tool to find information on Wikipedia is fairly straightforward and is very similar to using a search engine like Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing.

  1. Click on the search bar with your mouse.

    Wikipedia website in Microsoft Edge.

    Press Shift+Alt+F to move your mouse curser to the search box without having to click it.

  2. Type the word or phrase you're interested in reading about on Wikipedia. Search phrases cannot go over 300 characters and differences between upper and lowercase letters are ignored.

    Only letters, numbers, and double quotation marks are used by Wikipedia during a search.

    Unlike Google and other search engines, Wikipedia's search tool isn't very good at correcting spelling mistakes so it's a good idea to double-check your word or phrase as you type it, especially if your initial search gives you zero results. 

  3. A list of suggested phrases may automatically appear below the search bar as you type. You can click on any of these suggestions to go straight to their relevant web page on Wikipedia or continue to the next step to perform a search.

    Wiklipedia search suggestions.
  4. Click on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the Wikipedia search bar or press Enter.

Unlike a search engine, a search on Wikipedia won't always take you to a web page with all of the search results.

For example, if you perform a search for a simple word such as Marvel, you'll be presented with a page showing you links to numerous Wikipedia articles containing the word because the word Marvel is so general.

However, if you perform a search for a phrase like Marvel Comics, you'll be taken directly to the Wikipedia article on Marvel Comics because that search term leaves very little open to interpretation.

To see a search results page every time you search on Wikipedia, add a ~ after the last word in your search term with no space between them. This will expand the search to words that sound like the ones you typed. This can also be useful if you know how a word sounds but aren't sure how to spell it.

What Is Wikipedia's Search Page?

Wikipedia's search page is a fairly empty page on the Wikipedia website that contains the main navigational menu on the left side of the screen and a search box within the main body.

Wikipedia Search Page.

Unlike the small search bar that's used in the top-right corner of Wikipedia pages, searches done via the search page will always show you the search results page, even if you search for a specific phrase.

For example, a search for Marvel Comics in the top-right search bar would take you directly to the Wikipedia Marvel Comics article but a search for the same phrase on the search page will take you to the search results page with a full list of related articles.

Wikipedia search results.

The Wikipedia search page also features offers the ability to use special search parameters in a search without having to memorize them.

For example, instead of typing intitle:Bitcoin to search for Wikipedia articles with Bitcoin in the title, on the search page you can simply click the Advanced parameters dropdown menu and type Bitcoin into the Page title contains text field.

Searching Wikipedia By Link Sources

The linksto: parameter is a useful line of text that can be used in a Wikipedia search to pinpoint articles based on whether they link or don't link to specific content. Here are three different ways to use it.

  • Performing a search for linksto:Japan, for example, would pull up all Wikipedia articles that link directly to the main article on Japan.
  • Typing anime linksto:Japan would provide you with pages that link to the main Japan article on Wikipedia using the word anime.
  • Conversely, adding a minus symbol to the term would show you pages that link to the Japan article that don't use that word. For example, -linksto:Japan anime.

Searching Wikipedia For Specific Article Titles

The intitle: parameter can be used when you need to track down a Wikipedia article that has a specific title or has a title that contains certain words.

Using intitle:Bitcoin will show you every Wikipedia article that has Bitcoin in their title while money intitle:Bitcoin will show you pages that have Bitcoin in their title and money in their article text.

This parameter can be used more than once in a Wikipedia search as well which is useful for when you need to find an article with more than one specific word in it. Looking for an article that has Sydney and beach in its title? Search for intitle:Sydney intitle:beach.

If you're looking for an article with a specific phrase in its title, the phrase can be placed within double quotemarks. For example, intitle:"Sailor Moon".

How To Search For A Word On A Web Page

If you end up on an extremely long and comprehensive Wikipedia article and are having trouble finding the information you're looking for, you can perform a search for a specific word or phrase solely on that page alone.

Searching a Wikipedia article in Microsoft Edge.

To do this, press Ctrl + F. This will activate a native search tool in every major web browser from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge to Vivaldi, Opera, and Brave.

Once the search tool appears, simply type the word you're looking for and press Enter. You'll now be able to jump to each instance of the word within the Wikipedia article.