Improving your search results

Advice and features you can use when searching the University websites.


Search on the appropriate website

Where you start your search significantly changes the results you will be presented with.

The search feature on the public University of Sheffield website only returns information intended for public audiences.

As a student at the University of Sheffield, you’ll retrieve the best results by using the search feature on the Student hub (login required). This returns information from the Student hub as well as relevant pages on our public website within the same results.

As a member of staff or postgraduate researcher, you’ll retrieve the best results by using the search feature on the Staff hub (login required). This will search across our three main websites (public, Staff hub and Student hub) at the same time.

If you’re looking for information that might’ve been published on a shared Google Site, Google Drive or Google document, try using Google Cloud Search.

Use specific words or phrases

When searching, use one word or several relevant words to find what you're looking for. Common terms and single words are likely to match lots of pages, making results appear less relevant. To narrow a search, use several, more specific words.

Terms are not automatically combined, so searching using multiple words will return all pages containing one, several or all of those words. For example, searching human resources policies will retrieve all pages containing at least one of the words ‘human’, ‘resources’ or ‘policies’.

To retrieve pages that contain an exact phrase, put quotation marks around the phrase. For example, searching for “human resources policies” will return only the pages where that exact phrase ‘human resource policies’ has been used.

Modify your search with filters and tabs

To the left of your search results on a desktop (above on a mobile device), there are several filters which can be used to narrow down your query.

  • Sort
    • Order the results by relevance, such as when the page was last updated or alphabetically by page title.
  • Date
    • Filter by when the page was published or last updated.
  • Source
    • On the public website, filter the results by the University-affiliated websites they've come from or belong to (Performance venues, International College, etc.) On the Student and Staff hubs, filter by whether the page is on the public website, the Student hub or the Staff hub.
  • Website section
    • On our Student and Staff hubs, filter by the specific section of the website (IT Services, Library, etc.)
  • Include file downloads
    • Filter whether or not you want files (PDFs, Word docs) that are hosted on our web pages to be included in the results.

On our public website, there are also additional tabs above the search results, which can be used to display courses or news articles only.

Consider your choice of words and acronyms

Plurals, synonyms and corrected spellings are automatically included in searches for common words. For example, searching for policy will also return pages containing the word ‘policies’.

Unconventional acronyms and brand names used at the University are not usually recognised. In such cases, only the pages containing the term used will be returned. 

For example, searching for TUoS will not return pages containing ‘The University of Sheffield’ unless they contain ‘TUoS’ as well. Similarly, searching for The Deal will return all pages containing the word ‘deal’ regardless of whether they’re about staff benefits and rewards or not.

Consider also that the words you’re searching for may not be the same words used by the editors of web pages. Experiment with different variations of search terms to find pages with specific wording. For example, try using ‘pay and grading’ instead of ‘payscales’; ‘hire a vehicle’ instead of ‘rent a car’; and ‘vision’ instead of ‘mission’ or ‘strategy’.