Using Scribd's Advanced Search

Scribd's library is enormous! If using our general search feature didn't quite find the exact content you're looking for, our advanced search features give you a bit more control of your search results.

Generally speaking, our search works by trying to find your exact terms within our library, which includes audiobooks, books, documents, and more. If not all terms can be found within a document, then you will see results that match as many terms as possible. Using our search modifiers will enable you to be much more specific. Currently, these include:

  • A plus (+) modifier to indicate a strong preference for a term. 
  • A minus (-) modifier to indicate a strong negative preference for a term.
  • Phrases in double quotes (" ") to search for a sequence of terms.

Plus (+)

In cases where you want to find content on Scribd that must include a specific term, you can annotate each term with a plus sign directly preceding it. For example, suppose you’re interested in learning how to play piano. You might very well start with a search term like “piano”. You’ll see, however, that many of the results include music for players with varying experience. You can use a plus sign with a search term (such as “+beginner”) which means that the word “beginner” should figure prominently in the results you see. So, now your search terms look like this:

Now you’ll see that the results are markedly closer to exactly what you're looking for. You can also put a plus in front of “piano” to indicate that both “beginner” and “piano” are equally important in your query! 

Minus (-)

Continuing with the previous example, suppose you have learned all the music in the book "The Easyway to Play Piano" by Joe Procopio. If you want to exclude this document from your future searches, you can use the minus sign directly preceding a search term. Make sure to pick a word that’s indicative and a bit unique to the excluded document, such as “easyway” from the title or “procopio” from the author’s name. Your resulting search query would look like this:

Tip: The minus sign is particularly useful for when you have too many results.

We should add that care must be taken when using minus. For example, it wouldn't be helpful to pick a common word like "the" because an overwhelming majority of our library contains that word. If you included "-the" in your search terms, almost everything in the Scribd library would be excluded from your results!

Phrases (" ")

You can search for exact phrases by enclosing words with double quotes. The results will contain documents that have passages that closely match a phrase’s word sequence. For example, suppose you want to find the Charles Dickens book with the famous opening, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” You can enter entire phrases as a search term using double quotes: 

If you had entered in the words without the double quotes, the results are not as useful as very many documents will contain those individual words.

You can use the +/- modifiers with phrases too! For example, you might be interested in content that mentions the terms "cat songs" and "dog songs". In this case your search query will look like this:

Tip: Phrases can be particularly useful when searching with common words or looking for a particular document. For example, an author’s name Michael Phillip Cash has three individual words that are common across the Scribd catalog. However, by enclosing the entire name in double quotes, very few documents will contain the three words in sequence:

Still need help using our search tools? While Scribd staff can not search on your behalf or send content directly to you, we are more than happy to assist with any technical issues or questions you may have! We can be contacted via email anytime: support@scribd.com

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