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Using Wildcards

Wildcard uses symbols to find variations in the characters within a word.

Substitute * or % for zero or more characters
Substitute ? or _ for one character only

These characters can be substituted anywhere in the surname or forename and can be employed in various combinations. However, you should try to be as specific as possible in your use of wildcards to avoid returning unnecessary amounts of data.

Note: You cannot use wildcards and soundex on a surname at the same time, but you can use wildcards on the forename during a surname soundex search.

Forenames using Wildcards

  • Be particularly careful in your use of wildcard * at the end of a forename, because it can return many more results than are useful to you. For example, ANN* will capture ANN, ANNE, ANNIE, but also ANNABEL, ANN-MARIE etc. It will also return entries exhibiting extra forenames, such as ANN ELIZA and those entries where the chosen forename appears as a second or subsequent forename, e.g. MARY ANN.
  • Checking the box below Forename(s) on each search form will initiate an implied wildcard search using the initials and/or characters entered in the forename field.
    Example: W will be treated as W* and return, for example, W, WILLIAM, WILLM, WM, WILLIAM JAMES, JAMES WILLIAM, JAMES W, etc. as well as all other forenames beginning with W.
    Example: ANN J is treated as ANN*J* and will return ANN JANE, ANNE J, ANNIE J, ANNA JACKSON, ANN JANE GIBSON and also CATHERINE ANN J and MARY ANN JANE
    Be aware, however, that this facility may return an excessive number of results.

Surnames using Wildcards

  • A wildcard search on a surname will still return entries with extra forenames and those where the chosen forename appears as a second or subsequent forename.
  • Where a surname may have been recorded with a spelling involving only one change of letter, for example, SMITH recorded as SMYTH or CALLISON as COLLISON, you may find it useful to employ the wildcard ? to locate them.
  • Be careful in your use of the wildcard * at the end of a surname. For example, BRYD* would locate any names beginning with Bryd, such as BRYDON, BRYDAN, but also BRYDENTON, BRYDALL, and BRYDSON.
  • Mc/Mac Surnames using wildcards - Where a Mc surname may have been recorded as Mac, or vice versa, use wildcard * to locate it. For example, M*CDONALD or M*CDONALD will find both MCDONALD and MACDONALD entries.
  • Multiple wildcards - Several different wildcards can be employed in a single search, for example, searching on M*CGIL*V?R*Y will return many variants of the surname; MCGILVERY, MCGILLVERY, MCGILIVARY, MCGILLIVARY, MCGILLIVERY, MCGILLIVERAY, MCGILVARAY, MCGILVAREY, MCGILVARY, MCGILVEREY and so on, together with the Mac versions.
  • Entries in the surname field must contain a minimum of two characters, but neither of these can be a wildcard. For example, M*, *M, will not be accepted, but M*M, MA*, or *MA are all accepted.

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