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Help with Searching


The search engine on this site is configured to find current legislation quickly and easily. The "Current Legislation" collection is selected by default as this contains, but is not limited to, all of the Queensland Acts in force and most of the current subordinate legislation as made from 1992.

You can search any of the collections of legislation on this site from the Search Query page (Search Home), or you can choose to search one or more collections at the same time from the Menu Assisted and Advanced Search pages.

For an explanation of what each collection represents, please go to the Publications Information section on this web site. If you cannot find a particular piece of legislation please e-mail

Search Query - (Search Home)
Menu Assisted - a user friendly way of performing complex searches
Advanced Search - for complex Boolean and proximity queries

The search engine uses a web style search, in that it uses internet style query syntax, such as the + (plus), - (minus) and "phrase" operators. The search engine also has a built in "Did you mean" function, which will automatically suggest alternate queries when a search produces too few, or no results.

Using uppercase does not affect the query, however to activate Boolean operators, such as AND, OR and NOT uppercase must be used. If you are not sure of these terms, please look at the quick primer on the use of Boolean search techniques.

For technical problems or feedback, please feel free to contact the web administrator.

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Search Query (Search Home)

The Acts SL as in force (current) collection is the default setting in the drop down list - this is the most requested search category, you can choose any of the other collections from the drop down list. Enter the keyword(s) you are looking for in the search bar to the left, then click search and the software will return the results.

If you want to search more than one collection, or perform complex search requests through the use of operators and modifiers, go to the menu assisted and advanced search pages where more features are available.

Quickstart Diagram:

Use Word Stemming: The Word Stemming checkbox finds different tenses of a search term, for example a search for fence with word stemming will also find fences, fenced and fencing etc.

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Basic Search

You can initiate a basic search using words or phrases. For example, if you want to see all documents relating to "fence" in the Current Legislation collection, you can start by typing in a single-word query;

Please Note: a search result may include documents containing the search term but with a different meaning. For example, fence could also be the "art of sword play" or "selling stolen goods", as well as fences between property.

To find more specific results that relate to domestic fencing of property, you could enter several key words or phrases that describe the subject more precisely, such as: fence boundary

NOTE: Case doesn't matter in queries: a word entered in lower case will match words in upper case, lower case, or mixed case. However, case does matter for Boolean search operators – they must be in uppercase to be activated.

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Menu Assisted

A user friendly way of performing complex searches. The most important things to remember are that you need to select your collection(s) and when you enter your terms you enter them into the Query Term window. In between entering your terms, select the operator you wish to use and the query will be built in the Query Builder results window.

Please Note: Even though the Query Builder results window says “do not type in here”, you can edit your query in this window. For example, the template has a default setting of 10 words apart but you can set another number by adjusting the setting in the query builder window, e.g. change /10/ to /100/ will change the setting to 100 words apart).

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Proximity Operators

Important: Some search operators may give unexpected results. For example, the operators Within a PARAGRAPH of and In the same PARAGRAPH as are not as reliable as Within 10 WORDS of in performing proximity searches.

Within a PARAGRAPH of is similar to the Within 10 WORDS of search, except that it uses indicators such as tabs and line breaks. To retrieve documents that include all the search words specified, such as:

fence Within a PARAGRAPH of boundary

Will return words in the same paragraph and in paragraphs close by.

In the same PARAGRAPH as – Retrieves documents that include all the search words specified - in the same paragraph, using indicators such as tabs and line breaks.

Within 10 WORDS of retrieves documents that include all the search words specified, with the document's score adjusted for relevance ranking depending on how close the search words are to each other.

Relevance-Ranked– When the results of a search are displayed, the documents with the most number of 'hits' or (score) matching the search criteria appear at the top of the list. These documents are said to be Relevance-Ranked.

To retrieve relevance-ranked documents that contain the words "fence" and "boundary" within close proximity to each other you enter the following:

  1. "fence" as your first word
  2. select Within 10 WORDS of ... from the operators on the right
    (expressed as /10/ in the Query Builder results window)
  3. then type in "boundary"

NOTE: The words must be within 10 words of each other or the document will not be found unless you modify your range (e.g. change /10/ to /25/ in the Query Builder results window)

An Example of using Within 10 WORDS of to find particular references to an Act.

To search for a particular section in an Act and all other documents which reference that same Act enter the following:

Acts Interpretation Act 1954 /10/ s 32A

This will find the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 section s 32A and all other documents that refer to this Act and section.

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Advanced Search

By typing your search terms into the advanced search template fields you can perform complex searches very quickly. If you are not familiar with using the AND OR and NOT operators, read the quick primer on the use of basic Boolean search operators. However you may find that the plain English search language used in the Advanced Search template does cover their meaning adequately enough for you to start searching immediately.

Definitions of the plain English expressions in the Advanced Search screen

with all the words – The AND operator is used (e.g. forest AND park)

with the exact phrase – the terms are searched exactly as typed (e.g. “Brisbane forest park”)

with at least one of the words – The OR operator is used (e.g. forest OR park)

without the words – The NOT operator is used (e.g. forest NOT park)

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Boolean search techniques

A quick primer on standard search operators – operators found in many search engines on the Internet including this site.

Wild Card Searches – ? and *

? (the question mark) – single character wild card

e.g fence? would find fences and fenced

* (the asterisk) – single or multi character wild card

e.g. fence* would find fences, fenced and fencing etc.

? and * can be used together

e.g ?egis* would find legislation and registration plus others

Note: The multi character wild card (the asterisk) will be the most useful.

How to do basic Wildcard Searches – Search criteria can be extended by the use of wildcard characters

e.g. fence? will find "fenced" and "fences" but not "fencing" as the "?" character only indicates a single character.

fence* will find "fenced" and "fences" and "fencing" as the "*" character indicates that any number of characters can follow "fence." This is the similar to using the checkbox "Use Word Stemming" found on each of the three search pages.

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Boolean Operators – AND, OR and NOT

To make search queries more specific the words can be joined using Boolean Operators. These words create a logical relationship between the words in your search query.

AND – the inclusive operator

For example, using the term fence AND boundary means they will be found together in the same document. For basic searches, you can leave out the AND operator and just leave a space between the words (e.g fence boundary)

How close together? The menu assisted template has a default setting of 10 words apart but you can set another number by adjusting the setting in the query builder window e.g. /10/ to /25/ or /100/ will change the setting to 25 and 100 words apart respectively.

OR – the either operator

Documents will be selected if at least one of the search elements you specify is found. In other words, it will find either of them, e.g. fence OR boundary (or both)

NOT – the exclusive or constraining operator

Most effective if used with AND (e.g. fence AND boundary NOT dog) or with the OR operator (e.g. fence OR boundary NOT dog)

Main point to remember: If you want to search a phrase with the AND, OR and NOT operators, use upper case characters in the search query for the operator (e.g. “fence AND boundary”)

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Subscribe to Search

On any search results page from this site you will now find the "Subscribe to Search" option.

"Subscribe to Search" or "Saved Search" allows you to save a search you performed on the site. It will then notify you via email when that search changes in the future.

Any type of search you can perform on the site can be saved.

If you wish to be notified when a particular piece of legislation changes, you will need to first search and find the physical document. Open any PDF from the site, then copy the last segment of the website path from the address bar in your internet browser. See the example below - this is the document's name that you need to search on.

Now perform a new search and paste the document's name you copied into the search field, and perform the search. The search results are narrowed to find the physical document's name only, this search should only find one document. If this is satisfactory, simply click the "Subscribe to Search" button to create a saved search for this item and you will then be notified when this document changes in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: This service will not highlight changes within or between versions of a document. It simply notifies you that the document has been updated in some way since you last searched for it.


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This page last updated: 31 July, 2013