Archive FAQ > Search and Browse

Our search engine has recently been updated, and this FAQ is based on our old version. We're working on bringing you more up-to-date information, but in the meantime, you can find out more in our news post announcing the search and filter updates!

How can I search the Archive?

There are several options for searching the Archive!

You can use the navigation across the top of every page to browse through works by fandom, user or pseud, other people's bookmarks, tags, or by collection.

You can also search via the search box at the top right-hand corner of every page. To filter within these results, go to the Edit Your Search button.

This will lead you to the Work Search page. This page allows users to search works in a variety of ways: Tag, Title, Author, Words, Hits, Kudos, Published Date, and Language. The little blue question mark icons will bring up help pop-ups with more information.

You can also search via the filters. Once you’ve selected a fandom, you can narrow down your results further by Rating, Warning, Category, Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Freeform. You can also sort alphabetically by author, alphabetically by title, date, word count, kudos, comments, bookmarks or hits (if this option is turned on in your Preferences).

The filter boxes will show the top ten most popular tags for each category. If the option you want isn’t showing in the filters, you have two options:

1. Type the tag you’re looking for in the ‘Other Tags’ box. Some suggestions will come up in autocomplete to help you out, but if what you want isn’t among the suggestions, you can type it in yourself. (Note that tags that don’t appear in the autocomplete are non-canonical and may not always give expected results.) All types of tags can be mixed and matched: John Luther (character), The Losers (2010) (fandom), Crossover (additional tag) can all be entered in the same text field and will all be factored into your filter results.

2. Select some options from the available choices to narrow down your results, then filter again. For example, if you start with Stargate – All Series you’ll get filters showing the top ten characters across the whole of the Stargate universe, including characters from Stargate SG-1, such as Teal’c. If you select ‘Stargate Atlantis’ and filter again, the filters will show you only the top ten characters from Stargate Atlantis. You can drill down to get more and more specific filter results.

Please note that selecting an option in the filters will always produce an AND search – so if you select ‘Naruto’, ‘Bleach’, ‘Mature’ you’ll get works tagged with Bleach AND Naruto AND with the Mature rating. If you want to add OR or NOT options to your browsing, you’ll need to use the ‘search within your results’ option.

The filter search box will search all types of tags plus summaries and notes for the keywords you put in, and narrow down the results to only those matches.

Unlike the ticky boxes and the autocomplete field, this search box allows to you to generate results containing one thing OR another, not both of them. So, ticking Thane Krios and Liara T’Soni on the Mass Effect page will find you only works that contain both characters. Leaving the tickies alone and entering Thane OR Liara in the search field will find you works with one or the other or both. You can ticky any of the other boxes, e.g. only Explicit works and only F/M pairings, to narrow down your search results, and pick a sorting option. Note that this field only searches within your selection, so if you’re already on a fandom page, adding unrelated fandoms in an OR search won’t add works from these fandoms to your results.

Conversely, you can use the NOT search operator (or the minus sign “-”) to specify things you don’t want to see in your results. So, for example, on the Death Note page you could ticky “Mature” in the Rating options and “L/Yagami Light” under Relationship, and then enter -“major character death” or NOT “major character death” into the search field. This will exclude works with that warning.

See This help pop-up for more information and examples on what different searches you can run.

(Please note, if you are searching for a tag or phrase that uses one of these characters, put it in "quotes" to make sure it's searched for properly. "X-men" will work; X-men will search for "X NOT men", so will probably not get you the desired results.)

How do I search for particular tags?

There are a couple ways to search for tags. The tags field in Advanced Search will search for works associated with specific tags. You can also use Tag Search to search for a particular type of tag (Fandom, Character, Relationship, or Freeform). "Canonical" tags searches only the tags that appear in the filters (see the Tag FAQ for more details.)

How can I find works or bookmarks by a particular user?

If you follow the link on a user's name anywhere in the Archive, you'll be taken to their home page, where you can see their works, bookmarks, and profile.

You can go to the 'People' page (in the main navigation of the Archive) and search all users. Follow the link on the name or pseud you want to see and you will go to their home page with their works, bookmarks, and profile.

You can use the search box at the top right-hand corner of the page to search for a user's name.

How do I find works or bookmarks for a particular fandom?

If you follow the link on a fandom name anywhere in the Archive, you'll be shown works under that fandom. You can follow the 'Bookmarks' link at the top of the page to see bookmarks for that fandom instead.

You can go to the 'Fandoms' page (in the main navigation of the Archive) to see a list of all fandoms which currently have works or bookmarks in the Archive. Follow the link on the fandom name and you will find works for that fandom.

You can use the search box at the top right-hand corner of the page to search for a particular fandom.

What do the little boxes next to each work represent?

They indicate the work's rating and category, whether or not it has any warnings, and whether or not it's complete. You can find out the full range of meanings by looking at the Symbols Key.

How can I avoid certain types of works on the Archive?

All works on the Archive have lots of metadata, including ratings and warnings. (See more about our policies on Ratings and Warnings in the TOS FAQ. This means you can find out information about the work before you open it. You will also find summaries for most works in the works blurb.

How can I avoid seeing warnings or tags for works?

By default, the metadata for works includes warnings and any tags the author has included. We know that some people would prefer not to have this information before they read the fic, so we've introduced an option to hide warnings and/or tags by default. Refer to How can I change the way works and tags are displayed?. When it's enabled, warnings will be replaced by a link saying 'Show warnings' and tags by a link saying 'Show tags'. You can follow the link if you want to see the hidden information (requires javascript to work).

You will always see warnings and tags on your own works, even if you have this option enabled, as we figure you won't have any surprises there!

Where can I get more information if my question isn't answered here?

Some frequently asked questions about the Archive are answered in other sections of the Archive FAQ, and some common terminology is defined in our Glossary. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. If you need more help, please submit a Support request.