Most searches in the Gazetteer are straightforward, but there are some quirks to using the Gazetteer searches to find exactly what you're looking for.
The Quick Search appears on nearly every page of the Gazetteer and offers the options of searching for words in Place-names (e.g., the headings of articles) or in the full-text of each article.
Generally, searching in the full-text will also find the place-names in the headings, but will also find other instances of the same words, so Place-name searching will help narrow down your results. But there are a number of things to keep in mind when searching either place-names or full-text.
The default search is for place-name, and this searches only the headings of articles, not the text. This search will find the words you type in the exact order you type them. You can use the "*" wildcard character to represent any string of characters.
Clicking on the "full-text" option will find your search terms in both the headings of the articles and the complete text of the articles. This search will find any instance in any order of your terms. To find words in the exact order, put quotation marks around your terms to find that phrase. You can mix words and phrases for this search. This search also allows the "*" wildcard character.
Spellings of place-names can vary, especially when those names are transliterated from other languages, such as Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Greek, etc. There are different ways to render such languages in English, and while we have chosen the most widely used schemes for transliteration, other variations are just as valid. Also, even in English, place-names can be spelled differently by different authorities and can even change over time. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the country of Kazakhstan decided to change the spelling of their country name to "Kazakstan" only to change it back several years later. Gazetteer entries usually contain variant spellings so they can be found in a full-text search, but here are some tips to make sure you find even the more odd spelling variants:
- If you're unsure of a spelling, try using the "*" wildcard character in place of the letters you're not sure about.
- For words in Arabic, leave off the "Al" or "El" or use the wildcard character in place of either.
- For Greek names, we use the "y" transliteration for the "gamma" character instead of the "g" or "gh", e.g., Ayia Galini instead of Aghia Galini or Agia Galini.
- For Chinese names we use Pin-Yin spellings (Beijing), though Wade-Giles spellings (Peking) can still be found in many entries.
- If you are unsure on how a name might be punctuated, use the wild-card character in places where punctuation might fall.