Contact & Help

Contact & Help

Search Tips

Doing a search on is easy. Simply type one or more search terms (the words or phrase that best describe the information you want to find) into the search box and hit the 'Enter' key or click on the arrow next to the search box.

The search is also available outside of the Portal on certain State of Vermont websites, by using your browser's "Search Providers" bar, and by installing the Internet Explorer 8 accelerator. More information is available on the Using Search Functions & Accelerators help page. utilizes a Google-based search that uses the same searching style as Google itself. After you enter a search term and click the arrow button, the search produces a results page: a list of web pages, online services, and Vermont State directory entries related to your search terms appearing in this order:

Here are some basic tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your search:

Choosing search terms

Choosing the right search terms is the key to finding the information you need.

Start with the obvious — if you're looking for general information on Vermont, try Vermont.

It's often advisable to use multiple search terms; if you're planning a Vermont Trip, you'll do better with vacation Vermont than with either vacation or Vermont by themselves. And, vacation Vermont skiing may produce even better (or worse depending on your prespective) results.

You may also want to ask yourself if your search is appropriately specific. It's better to search on Stowe skiing than on Vermont skiing if you are interested in skiing facilities in the Stowe area. The search looks for the terms you choose, so Stowe skiing will probably deliver better results than Best mountain trails to ski during winter in Stowe.


Searches are NOT ase sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you type them, will be understood as lower case. For example, searches for Burlington, burlington, and BuRlinGTOn will all return the same results.

Automatic "and" queries

By default, Google only returns pages that include all of your search terms. There is no need to include "and" between terms. Keep in mind that the order in which the terms are typed will affect the search results. To restrict a search further, just include more terms. For example, to find Supreme Court opinions, simply type supreme court opinions.

Optional & excluded words

Google usually returns pages that use all of the words you search for. However, if some of the words in your search don't appear on the best pages we find, we'll also consider pages that don't include them. For example, when you search for recipe for a maple sugar candy, we might return recipes that don't happen to include the words "for" or "a."

Very common words (often called "stopwords"), such as "the," "and," or "of," are usually dropped from searches because they typically don't convey much information compared to the other words in a search. We might also treat words as optional if they're redundant given the other words in your search. For example, in UV sun protective swimwear, requiring "UV" to appear might exclude high quality pages, so we may exclude "UV" in compiling your results.

Even when words are treated as optional, they're still taken into account in assessing how relevant a page is to your query. For example, Google shows different results for University of Vermont than we do for University in Vermont.

Generally, excluding common words allows us to return better search results. If one of these words is important to your search, you can precede it with a plus sign "+" to ensure that Google requires it to appear in every search result. So, for example, a search for +The Bennington Battle Monument will return only results that include the word "the."

Alternate words

Google usually returns pages that use all of the words you included in your search. Sometimes, however, we'll consider other words as substitutes if we think that doing so will improve the results we show you. For example, if you search for lake monsters, Google's results might include pages that talk about a lake monster.

There are several ways Google identifies alternate words:

  • Stemming finds alternate forms of a word, such as singular or plural variations.
  • Synonyms can help someone searching for UVM Sports Teams may find pages that mention Vermont Catamounts.
  • Abbreviations expand search terms so that VDH programs might also find pages about Vermont Department of Health programs.
  • Words might be combined or split so that we return pages about organic dog food when you search for organic dogfood.
  • Because it's often easier to type words without accents, a search for a coup d'etat might return pages that talk about a coup d'état.

Usually, the alternate words we add to your results will help your search, but we understand that in some cases you want to restrict your search to precisely the terms you enter. In that case, you can precede a word with a plus sign "+" to tell Google you're looking for that exact term. So, for example, if you search for lake +monsters, we'll only return pages that are talking about more than one.

Phrase searches

Sometimes you'll only want results that include an exact phrase. In this case, simply put quotation marks around your search terms.

Phrase searches are particularly effective if you're searching for proper names ("Ethan Allen") or famous phrases ("sugar on snow").

Negative terms

If your search term has more than one meaning (bass, for example, could refer to fishing or music) you can focus your search by putting a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. For example, searching for bass -fish would give any results containing the word "bass" that does not contain the word "fish".

Telphone directory searches

When searching the Vermont State Employee Telephone directory through the search, please be aware that entries are only displayed if two or fewer matches are found for you search phrase. Therefore, you should enter the first and last name of the individual you are searching for to guarentee that the directory entry will be found.