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Basics of Query Building

Our Document Search is powered by Elastic Search, an enterprise-grade search engine that allows for thorough and comprehensive searching of the millions of documents in our database (11.3 million and growing). Each search is executed by our cluster of servers for fast and rapid results. Because we use Amazon Web Services for our infrastructure, our capacity is easily scalable as our client base grows- you do not have to worry about performance issues due to capacity constraints.

Plural vs Singular

Our algorithmic stemmer will automatically search both the plural and singular form of a word. For example, a search for employee will also find instances of employees.

Note that there are some irregular plurals where our stemmer may not work. For example, the plural forms of the words axe and axis is “axes”. A search for axis will not find “axes”. As well, a search for elf will not find elves.


For company names such as Wal-Mart, a search for Wal-Mart (e.g. to find competitors and vendors discussing the retailer) will return instances of Wal-Mart, Wal mart and Walmart.

Note that for new companies, you may need to manually search both the hyphenated and non-hyphenated form of a word. When searching you do not actually need to type in the hyphen and can use a space instead. For example, the search queries Wal-Mart and Wal Mart are equivalent (our search treats hyphens the same as whitespace).


Our synonyms library will broaden your search results with words with similar meanings. For example, a search for repurchase (e.g. share repurchase) will find buyback, NCIB, open market purchase, re-purchase, reacquire stock, etc.

Please be aware that some words in the English language are ambiguous. Our synonyms may occasionally be inappropriate for your context, e.g. a search for Matthew Rose (instead of revenues rose) will find instances of Matthew increased (instead of revenues increased).

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators allow you to specify whether the document should or should not contain certain words anywhere in the document.

For example, the search query AWS is ambiguous since the acronym can refer to Amazon Web Services or Advanced Wireless Services.

The search query aws AND cloud would help you find instances of Amazon Web Services. In practice, you would search something like amazon web services OR (aws AND cloud).

The search query aws NOT amazon would help you find instances of Advanced Wireless Services.

The search query aws OR amazon web services would help you find instances of AWS, regardless of whether the acronym or full name is used.

Near Function

The near() function allows you to specify a search distance other than the default of 6 (or whatever your search sensitivity setting is).

For example, the query near2(john doe) will find instances of that person’s name with up to 2 words (middle names) between the first and last name.

In: Function

The in: function  will limit your search to look only within specific Adding in:10k to your query will limit your search to only 10-Ks.

See our shortcuts article for a full list.

Some Query Examples

Searching for: Themes such as natural disasters (Hurricane Matthew) that might impact your portfolio.

Query Example:
 Hurricane Matthew impact OR Hurricane Matthew loss OR Hurricane Matthew write down

It can help to include the name of the event as well as words associated with financial impact/loss:

Searching for: Themes that may be referred to in different ways

: machine learning OR ai OR artificial intelligence OR neural networks OR neuro-linguistic programming OR neurolinguistic programming

Searching for: Issue (foodborne illness) in the news that may be referred to in different ways

norovirus OR stomach flu OR acute gastroenteritis OR food poisoning

It might help to search for both the common (slang) and scientific terms:

Searching for: Hyphenations not in our synonyms library

plug-in OR plugin

Searching for: A group of words in the same paragraph/section of a document. Suppose that you want to look at companies that have recently missed an interest payment:

near30(grace period interest payment elect)

You can try running a simple search for ‘interest payment’ or ‘missed interest payments’, but this may return too few or too many results. After doing a bit of reading, you will notice mentions of missed interest payments are associated with some combination of the words grace period, elect(ed), and interest payment.

Searching for: Company Guidance

Query Example:

With the help of synonyms, we will also search for other relevant guidance terms such as project and estimate.

Updated on August 4, 2017

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