Using Search Visualizer for your own searches, plus some background story

We’ve put soft copies of several books of the Bible, plus several Shakespeare plays, and some archival material from the American Civil War, onto the SV site.

They’re useful for learning how to use Search Visualizer to search for information in large documents – one of the documents on the site is over half a million words long.

To search this material:

Go to the main SV site (

Go to the window that says “Entire web” and select the “sample texts” option

Click on “Choose texts” and then select the texts that you want to search.

Click “close” (top right corner) to close the text selection window

Click “More options” so you can tweak the settings to make the images the best size (for big texts, it’s usually better to use the “Smaller squares” option and the “Two results per screen” option)

Enter your keywords.

(Note: SV lets you treat words as synonyms by separating them with commas (without spaces) and also lets you search for phrases; there’s also an option for searching on parts of words or on complete words.)

Press “Search”

When you see something interesting in your results, you can click once on the visualisation to bring up an interactive version, where you can hover over a keyword and see the surrounding text. You can close the interactive document by clicking “close” in the top right.

If you’re having problems working out what you’re seeing, imagine that you’re seeing a text where someone has gone through with highlighter, highlighting each of your keywords with colour-coding.

You can also search the entire Web, or a specific site on the Web, by going to the “Entire web” option. The “specific site” option is sensitive to the precise phrasing of the url, so you may need to trim off the last part of a url to make it work.

If you have a collection of texts that you’d like to make available online to other people, for “specific site” search, then please let us know, and we’ll see what can be done about creating a list for SV users.

SV can search in a fair range of languages, including Greek and Hebrew, though we haven’t finished testing other languages, and we don’t make any guarantees about what will happen if you search in other languages.

Brief background:

The software was invented by myself and by Dr Ed de Quincey, who is now at the University of Greenwich.

This version of the software can handle a range of file formats, and a range of scripts and languages. We also offer customised commercial versions; we’re working with people in fields ranging from biblical studies to medicine and forensics on field tests of customised versions.


About searchvisualizer

We welcome debate and disagreement, but not abuse, trolling or thread derailment. We reserve the time-honoured right of blog owners and moderators to be arbitrary, capricious and autocratic in our wielding of the ban hammer. Gordon Rugg is a former timberyard worker, archaeologist and English lecturer who ended up in computer science via psychology. He’s the same Gordon Rugg who did the Voynich Manuscript work, and the books with Marian Petre about research. He’s co-inventor of the Search Visualizer.
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