General SPIRES search commands

This page will help you with the basic syntax of SPIRES commands that can be used in any database.  For help with individual databases (HEP, HEPNames, institutions etc.), go to the main page for that database (above) and click on help below the search box. 


  1. In the search box type a find command as follows:    
     FIND index-name search-word(s) [ Boolean Operator  index-name search-term
    • FIND is optional,  you can leave it out if you like. 
    • Index-name is one of the indexes (see below).
    • Search-word(s) is the word or words you are looking for.
    • Boolean Operators are "and" "and not" "or" and combine searches with different terms or indexes
  2. Then select a format and a sort order from the pull-down menus.  
  3. Then press hit return or click "Search"


Each database has its own set of indexes, or search words that you can use.  For instance in HEP you can find author, or find title, or find date-added, while in HEPNames you can search on things like PHD institution, or email address.  For a list and explanation of the search terms for a database, see that database's help page.

Useful Tricks

find t proton and a feynman  fin a witten and a seiberg
fin a susskind or a peskin  fin aff SLAC or a Guth
fin a peskin and not aff SLAC  fin t compton not scattering
fin t microproces#
Searches for anything starting with the preceding string.  This is not available in all searches, and may cause your search to take a bit more time.  On the other hand it can be very useful.   The string usually must contain at least two characters, so fin t m# would not be allowed.
Many SPIRES databases have a browse function that allows you to browse the contents of a chosen index from a specified starting point.  This can help you see how things are written, and if there are likely alternate spellings you should look out for. 
For instance, selecting affiliation, and typing "stanford" would yield these results, which show you the different possible affiliations involving Stanford in the database.
More database commands
  • Use the show and explain commands to learn more about the database. For example,
            show subfile description  
    gives a brief description of the database. An equivalent command is
            explain hep
  • show search terms   or   show indexes
    you will get the list of the database search terms and their valid aliases. Use these search terms ('indexes') with the find and browse commands.
  • The command
            show subfile size
    will show how many records are stored in the database.

SPIRES HEP was a joint project of SLAC, DESY & FNAL as well as the worldwide HEP community.
It was superseeded by INSPIRE

Last Updated: 01/31/2005

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