Tips from the Pros: Two Options for Viewing Search Results

Did you know that there are two ways to view global search results?  When you search all the databases at, you can choose to either have them “Sort by Relevance.” This gives you results from all the databases mixed together, with the results that most closely match the search criteria you’ve entered at the top. This is a great way to uncover surprises in databases you might not have thought to check.

The other option is to have the results “Summarized by Category.” This will group all of the census databases together, all the vital records databases, etc.  You can then click through each database to see the results separately. It makes it a little more time consuming, but if you’re focused on searching a particular database, viewing all the hits may be helpful in refining your search. Plus, to the perpetually disorganized like me, it brings a little organization to the process that is somehow comforting. 😉

You can switch between the various views by making your selection in the drop-down box in the upper right hand corner of the box of search results. When you perform another search it will default to the view you selected last.

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8 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Two Options for Viewing Search Results

  1. Yeah, that’s all fine and dandy for search results, does nothing for the people who do serious research, who find the county results in nice tidy alphabetical order. Lovely, just what I want to see my ancestors in context. Not only that, when I finally DO find my ancestor, even the members of the household are alphabetized. Wonderful, now we can mentally try to piece the household back together.

    I’m curious if any of these bloggers ever actually have to USE the site for research, or even ask those of us who have a clue as to what we are doing, what the best way to arrange one’s results are, OR, give an option to turn off the alphabetizing of specific census results, even down to a particular household? How would you like to see John Smith, head of Household, behind his 0 year old Adam Smith, followed by the mother Laura Smith, then the sister 4 year old Mary Smith? Huh?

  2. I was happy to see this tip because I wanted to change it to “sort by relevance” however, my screen doesn’t look like this and I do not have a “view” box in the upper right hand corner. What’s wrong here? A reply would be appreciated.

  3. I agree with Comment Item #1 above dated 20 Feb 2009. I don’t understand why the alphabetizing of census results are now used. It is a most irritating change and I don’t see it serves any purpose, at least it doesn’t for me. Some changes in the program seem downright silly. There are more important issues that need attention. The old ways of doing things on your website were much more efficient.
    Thanks for listening.

  4. Hi,
    I can’t find anything that allows me to search by relevance. Would you please give directions?
    Thank you

  5. I agree with Comment 3’s point of view. The new way of searching is confusing and why change the old way of searching when it worked so well?

  6. Search results are nebulous to say the least. I have asked this question for several years — if I am doing an advanced search and one of the criteria is that the person died in 1890, why do you return results for the 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 census records? The whole idea of a search (advanced) is to limit results. Grouping is sometimes useful, but true search capabilties would be beneficial.

  7. I should have noted that this is a feature of the new search. If you’d like to switch to “new search” click where it says “Try It” on the right hand side, in the yellow bar just under the navigation tabs.

    I’m passing your other concerns on to Anne Mitchell who is the product manager in charge of search functions at Ancestry.

    Thanks for your comments!


  8. I am so tired of getting the I am sorry crap whn i go to add people and sources that I am about ready to take all my stuff and go to another sight.Why do you guys tell us that we have information that goes to the tree and then make it impossible to get it?

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