SV features

This page describes the individual features of Search Visualiser, and gives some hints and tips for making the most of them.

It also contains downloadable PDF articles with more detailed information.

The features are:

Synonyms:

If you want to treat two or more words as synonyms in an SV search, you separate each word by a comma in the search bar. For example,
red,pink,maroon car,hatchback,saloon
will treat the words red, pink and maroon as synonyms of each other, and will treat the words car, hatchback and saloon as synonyms of each other. (Note the space between the three colour synonyms and the three vehicle synonyms.)

This feature can be used creatively in various ways. For instance, if you want a quick overview of gendered language in a text, you can treat all the female pronouns as synoynms of each other, and all the male pronouns as synonyms of each other, so you can easily see where female pronouns occur relative to male pronouns, regardless of which particular pronouns are involved. If you're doing this, it's advisable to read the section below on partial and whole word matching, to avoid false hits on he within the word she.

Download PDFs with more on this topic:
Using synonyms in SV, part 1
Using synonyms in SV, part 2

Partial word matching and whole word matching:

Partial word matching is useful when you're dealing with a word which can take several forms (e.g. create, creator, creating, creation). In this situation, you can just search for creat and you will find the assorted forms just mentioned.

Sometimes, though, you need to exclude false positives, in which case the whole word matching feature is very useful. This is particularly useful if you're looking at gendered language, where you need to avoid confusion between he and she, where the partial word search would show hits for he within the word she.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Partial word matching and whole word matching in SV

Searching for phrases:

As with most search engines, if you enclose two or more words of your search within inverted commas, SV will treat them as a single phrase. For example, searching for "James Smith" will find only cases where these two words occur immediately next to each other, and will not find cases such as James E. Smith where the two words are separated by a middle initial.

Adjusting square sizes:

SV offers five sizes for the squares when it shows visualisations of documents, with the sizes ranging from tiny to large. This feature is useful for letting you see an entire document on screen without having to scroll. It interacts with the option for choosing how many documents to show per screen. For instance, if you're scanning through large numbers of short documents, then you can use normal square sizes and ten documents per screen; if you're getting an overview of a very large document, then you will probably want to use tiny squares, combined with one document per screen.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Choosing square sizes and number of documents

Choosing how many documents to show per screen:

SV offers a choice of ten, five, two or one document(s) per screen. The "ten" and "five" options are useful for searching through large numbers of short documents. The "two" option is useful for comparing pairs of texts with each other; for instance, we've used this setting to compare pairs of plays by Shakespeare. The "one" option is useful for searching very large texts; we've used this on documents over half a million words long. This feature interacts with the choice of square size; usually, smaller and tiny squares are most useful when working with very large texts.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Choosing square sizes and number of documents

The interactive hover mode:

If your search has brought up a document that you'd like to look at in more detail, then you can click on the visualisation of that document, which brings up an interactive version of the document. You can then hover your mouse over any of the coloured squares showing where your keywords are located; this will show you the text surrounding the keyword where you are hovering. If you want to go to the document itself, you can click on any of the white squares in interactive mode, or you can click on the URL for the document in the main search screen.

Searching the Web:

SV lets you search the entire Web, as the standard default setting. There is more about this in the "View example" link on the SV homepage.

Searching individual sites:

SV also lets you search a website of your choice. This is useful for finding records within a single site, such as an archive. There is more about this in the "View example" link on the SV homepage.

Searching documents from the sample texts on this site:

We have put some Shakespeare plays, some historical archive documents from the American Civil War, and the first five books of the King James Old Testament onto the SV site, so you can experiment with the various SV features on them. There is more about this in the "View example" link on the SV homepage.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Using Search Visualizer on our sample texts

Dealing with very large texts:

The largest single text in our online collection is over half a million words long, and SV is able to handle this. For large texts, you'll need to use the SV options for number of files viewed at once, and for size of squares, until you find the best balance for your needs. If you go into interactive mode with a large text, SV uses its usual square sizes, and you shouldn't notice any difference other than the amount of scrolling you need to do.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Dealing with very large texts

Dealing with "not the usual suspects" Boolean NOT searches:

Searching for cases that aren't the usual suspects is notoriously difficult for most search engines. For instance, if you're trying to find sources of renewable energy other than wind, wave and solar, then searching for renewable energy NOT wind wave solar in most search engines will cause a lot of relevant records to be excluded because they include mentions of wind wave or solar as well as the mentions of the other energy source that you're looking for.

With SV, you can enter a search for renewable energy wind wave solar and then look at the distribution of wind wave and solar within the records you find. If these three terms form neat sections in a text, with clear gaps between them or next to them, those gaps will probably be where other sources are mentioned. This is what happens in the example on the right, which shows the result from one record found by this search. The gaps are where the text covers energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass.

Download PDF with more on this topic:
Cutting the Boolean NOT