Searching the site
To find pages on a particular subject area enter a word (e.g. benefit) into the search box and click the Search button. You can also enter more than one word (e.g. council tax), but don't bother padding your search text with smaller words e.g. to, the, and etc. Just enter the keywords that relate to what you're trying to find.
A search will normally result in a number of suggested pages being displayed. An extract from each page is displayed so that you can find the page which best matches your requirements. Click the link to view the corresponding page.
When a large number of suggestions arise from a search these are divided into a number of search result pages. You can move from one search results page to another using the 'previous', 'next', or page number links at the bottom of each page.
If a search results in too many pages, then refine your search by adding extra keywords, for example 'council tax' instead of just 'tax'.
If a search results in no pages, you need to widen the scope of your search. For example, 'council tax rates' instead of 'aspatria council tax band B rate'.
Keep it simple
Keep your search simple - a query made up of two or three words will usually provide relevant results. You can always refine your search if you get too many results.
Searching for an exact phrase
All of the words that you enter will be used to return search results. The order they are in will also be used to determine which pages are most relevant. If you want to make sure that the search results will contain all of the words you enter in exactly the same order, however, place double quotes ("") around the words e.g "freephone telephone".
Certain common words are ignored when used in your search as they do not help to provide useful results. Examples include "to", "of"', "is", "where" and "how". A message will be displayed above the search results informing you of any words that have been ignored in your search query.
If a common word is important to your search however, you can make sure it is not ignored by putting a "+" sign in front of it. This could be used in a search query as follows: +where +is Carlisle Civic Centre. Note that there must be a space before each plus sign.
Common words will also not be ignored if they are included in double quotes as part of an exact phrase query.
Using "and" / "or" to refine your search
The word "and" will be ignored when used in search queries. This is because it is sometimes used by searchers to tell the search to consider extra words e.g taxis and minibuses and trains but the search would consider all of those words anyway. So the search query taxis minibuses trains would return the same results, making the use of 'and' unnecessary.
Using the word "OR" (must be in uppercase) will let you search on either of the words that the "OR" comes between. For example the search query web statistics 2010 OR 2011 will return pages that contain either the words web statistics 2008 or web statistics 2009 while the query web statistics 2008 2009 without the "OR" would also return results that include both of those years on the same page.
Excluding certain words
To refine your search, you may want to exclude any pages that contain a certain word from the results. To tell the search which words you want to avoid, put a minus sign (-) before the word in your search query, e.g the search council tax exemption -unoccupied would return pages relevant to council tax exemptions but would exclude any pages that contained the word unoccupied.
There is an 'advanced search' link on our search results page. This lets you perform a search using many of the tips and techniques explained above in an easy to use way.
Simple is still best
The tips above are useful in certain circumstances and can be handy to refine your search if required. In most cases however, the search will return the most useful results for your query when you enter just two or three words which are relevant to the information you are interested in.