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How do I use wildcards when searching on Findmypast?

Wildcard searches help account for misspelled first names, incorrect transcriptions, evolving surnames and other possible name-related issues when searching Findmypast’s records.

A wildcard character placed in a name tells the search engine to count any letter as a match and will return a diversity of search results.

There are two varieties of wildcards that work on Findmypast - an asterisk (*) or a question mark (?).


Asterisk wildcards

Use an asterisk (*) to replace more than one character. For example, searching the last name Folkes with a wildcard character in place of the letter L (Fo*kes) will return results that include last names Foakes, Fokes, Folks, Fookes, Forkes, Foukes, Foulkes and Fowkes. In most cases, you should use an asterisk to broaden your search as much as possible.

It’s also possible to use more than one wildcard in the same field. For example, "*Fo*lke*".


Question mark wildcards

A question mark (?) wildcard only replaces a single character. In the above example only Foakes, Fookes, Forkes and Fowkes would be returned as search results if you use a question mark instead of an asterisk.


Keyword wildcards

You can use both types of wildcards in more than just name searches - they work for keywords too.

For instance, if you're searching for piano-related occupations in census records, entering the search term ‘piano*’ will return all occupations with the word piano in them including piano tuner, piano teacher, piano stringer and more.

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