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How To Search for Words or Phrases in a PDF Document

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Displaying the Search/Find Window Pane

When a PDF is opened in the Acrobat Reader, the search window pane may or may not be displayed. To display the search/find window pane, use "Ctrl+F".

When the Find window opens, follow these steps and refer to Figure 1. below:

  • Click the small arrow on the right side of the box.
  • Select the drop down item - "Open Full Acrobat Search".

Figure 1.

how to search a pdf document

Search Options

There are several ways to search for information within a PDF document. These include the following:

  • Advanced Search
  • Basic Search

Advanced Search Options

Brief explanation of the options available in the advanced search are:

  • Match Exact Word Or Phrase - Searches for the entire string of characters, including spaces, in the same order in which they appear in the text box.
  • Match Any Of The Words - Searches for any instances of at least one of the words typed. For example, if you search for each of, the results include any instances in which one or both of the two words appear: each, of, each of, or of each.
  • Match All Of The Words - Searches for instances that contain all your search words, but not necessarily in the order you type them. Available only for a search of multiple PDFs or index definition files.
  • Boolean Query - Uses the Boolean operators that you type with the search words into the What Word Or Phrase Would You Like To Search For box. Available only for searching multiple PDFs or PDF indexes.

    Note: You cannot run wildcard searches using asterisks (*) or question marks (?) when searching PDF indexes.

Click "Use Advanced Search Options" near the bottom of the search window pane to display the advanced search information. To execute an advanced search request complete the following steps:

  • Type your search term(s) inside the "text box" where you are asked:"What word or phrase would you like to search for?"
  • Select an option from the drop down menu for "Return results containing:"
  • Click the "Search" button to execute the search request.

Basic Search Options

To execute a basic search request complete the following steps:

  • Type your search term(s) inside the "text box" where you are asked: "What word or phrase would you like to search for?"
  • Click the "Search" button to execute the search request.

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Sample Search Request Using Advanced Search Options

For the purposes of this example, steps are provided to illustrate how to execute a search request for finding information about diazinon and kaolin in a PDF document. Assume that a PDF document is opened in the browser. If the search window pane is not displayed, please refer back to "Displaying the Search Window Pane" for assistance.

The Search Criteria

Below are the steps to be followed for completing a search request to find information about diazinon and kaolin. Refer to Figure 2.

  • Click "Show More Options" near the bottom of the search window pane. (Step 1)
  • Select "Match Any Of The Words" from the drop down menu for "Return results containing:" (Step 2)
  • Type "diazinon kaolin" inside the "text box" where you are asked: What word or phrase would you like to search for?" (Step 3)
  • Click the "Search" button to execute the search request. (Step 3)

Figure 2.

Advanced search option

The Search Results

In this example, the search results produced 10 items in the PDF document for information about diazinon and kaolin. See Figure 3. below.

Figure 3.

pdf search

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Additional Information

Setting a Preference for Displaying the Advanced Search Option as the Default

  • Select "Edit" from the menu option at the top-left of the computer screen.
  • Select "Preferences".
  • The Preferences popup window is displayed.
  • Under Categories: select "Search".
  • Refer to the "Search" section and check the box "Always show more options in advanced search".
  • Click the "Ok" button to save.

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