Getting the Best Results from SharePoint Search – part 2

If you want to know more about what’s going on “behind the scenes” with the search for a document based on the Author’s name, here’s a little background.  Here’s my tip for solution designers and trainers: this falls in the “Too Much Information” category for most end users.  It’s not always necessary to explain exactly how everything works to every end user. Just help them do the job.  That means, for most users, you only have to explain what’s in my July 18 post.  But, if someone wants to know more or they are not getting the results they want with the simple explanation, it’s OK to go one step further.

SharePoint looks at two different values for Author in search.  The first is the Author property of an Office document.   The second is the Created By field in the SharePoint properties.  The Author property of an Office document usually tells you who actually wrote a document, but this is not always the case.  For example, if you re-use a PowerPoint presentation that someone else created as your “template,” unless you explicitly change the Author property, the original Author will still be listed as the Author, even if you have completely changed the content of every page in the presentation.  But, as long as you personally upload all the content you “create,” SharePoint search will associate that document with you, even if the Author property has someone else’s name in it or if the Author property is blank.  To ensure you get accurate results, you need to know the syntax used for Author names in Office.

entire

name if you know it (and especially if the last name is a common name)? 

Can you enter the author’s

The default for Author in Office documents is probably First Name Last Name.  The standard for user id in the Created By field for SharePoint is probably Last Name, First Name.  In Advanced Search using the Author property, if you try to find a document where Author = John Smith, SharePoint will find documents where John Smith is the exact value in the Author property from Office.  That means it will not find a document that John Smith uploaded but didn’t actually author in Office unless you add a second property search for Author = Smith, John.  That means, you will not find documents that John really authored but where he started with a  template document that someone else created. 

So, if you want to find documents where John is the originator in Office (again, we can’t be sure if someone re-used a document John created) OR where John uploaded the document to MOSS, use Advanced Search as follows: 

  • First narrow the results to include just documents (Result type = Documents)
  • Second, select the property Author and then Contains  and enter Smith, John
  • Third, add a second search row with the OR option
  • Finally, enter a second property search for Author contains John Smith 

Next time, I’ll address searching for Author using the syntax for simple searches.

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