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OCLC Support

Whole phrase search

Discover how to perform a whole phrase search when searching WorldCat indexes.

 Note: Whole phrase searching is not available in WorldCat Discovery or WorldShare.


The system searches for complete data in indexed field, across all indexed subfields.

Index label format

xxw= (where x represents an alphanumeric character)


  • Connexion
    • Personal name whole phrase — pnw=james, henry 1843-1916
    • Subject whole phrase — suw=library science computer network resources
  • FirstSearch
    • Subject whole phrase — sa=library science computer network resources


  • FirstSearch and WorldShare Collection Manager query collection WorldCat indexes do not include w.
  • Most whole phrase (or mapped phrase) indexes are usually only available in Connexion and not available for searching WorldCat in WorldShare, WorldCat Discovery, and FirstSearch. In FirstSearch, the Subject whole phrase index label sa= functions in the same way as the suw= index label in Connexion.
  • Enter all field data, or truncate using an asterisk (*).
    Example: suw=library science comput* (Connexion)
    Example: sa=library science comput* (FirstSearch)
    Alternative: Browse for the whole phrase: In Connexion, enter sca suw=library science computer. Use the Scan (sca) command in Connexion only. In FirstSearch WorldCat, click the browse button (FirstSearch browse button) and enter sa=library science computer. Browsing automatically truncates a phrase.
  • Omit initial articles in titles.
  • Retain the first comma for personal name indexes if it is not the last element in the subfield.
  • Retain hyphens in dates.
  • Include parentheses when present in a whole phrase search term, but enclose the entire search term in quotation marks (") so that the system dose not interpret the parentheses as a nested search.
  • Combine word, phrase, or whole phrase searches in more than one index with Boolean operator.