Performing Text Searches

This page provides information on how to perform text searches. It applies to both basic searches and advanced searches (when used with the CONTAINS operator). This page also applies to quick search when performing a text search on the fields that this feature supports.


JIRA uses Apache Lucene for text indexing, which provides a rich query language. Much of the information on this page is derived from the Query Parser Syntax page of the Lucene documentation.

Query terms

A query is broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms: Single Terms and Phrases.

A Single Term is a single word such as "test" or "hello".

A Phrase is a group of words surrounded by double quotes such as "hello dolly".

Multiple terms can be combined together with Boolean operators to form a more complex query (see below). If you combine multiple terms without specifying any Boolean operators, they will be joined using AND operators.

Note: All query terms in JIRA are case insensitive.

Term modifiers

JIRA supports modifying query terms to provide a wide range of searching options.

Wildcard searches: ? and *

JIRA does NOT support leading wildcards or Wildcards in phrases currently.

If you are interested in a work around we recommend Script Runner a free third party add on. Script Runner really beefs up JQL as you can use regex with script runner.

For example: issueFunction in issueFieldMatch("project = JRA", "description", "ABC\\d{4}").

See more on IssueFieldMatch.

JIRA supports single and multiple character wildcard searches.

To perform a single character wildcard search use the "?" symbol.

To perform a multiple character wildcard search use the "*" symbol.

Wildcard characters need to be enclosed in quote-marks, as they are reserved characters in advanced search. Use quotations, e.g. summary ~ "cha?k and che*"

The single character wildcard search looks for terms that match that with the single character replaced. For example, to search for "text" or "test" you can use the search:


Multiple character wildcard searches looks for 0 or more characters. For example, to search for Windows, Win95 or WindowsNT you can use the search:


You can also use the wildcard searches in the middle of a term. For example, to search for Win95 or Windows95 you can use the search


You cannot use a * or ? symbol as the first character of a search. The feature request for this is JRA-6218

Fuzzy searches: ~

JIRA supports fuzzy searches. To do a fuzzy search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a single word term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "roam" use the fuzzy search:


This search will find terms like foam and roams.

Note: Terms found by the fuzzy search will automatically get a boost factor of 0.2

Proximity searches

JIRA supports finding words that are within a specific distance away. To do a proximity search use the tilde, "~", symbol at the end of a Phrase. The word order should be the same as it appears in the field you are searching. For example to search for "atlassian" and "jira" within 10 words of each other in a document use the search:

text ~ '"atlassian jira"~10'

If you use more than 2 search words, the distance number should be the minimum number of non matching words in between all the search words. For example, if you are searching for the string oink werewolf giraffe and coyote dotty not sloopthen the following would be the right query:

text ~ '"oink and sloop"~5'

Boosting a term: ^

JIRA provides the relevance level of matching documents based on the terms found. To boost a term use the caret, "^", symbol with a boost factor (a number) at the end of the term you are searching. The higher the boost factor, the more relevant the term will be.

Boosting allows you to control the relevance of a document by boosting its term. For example, if you are searching for

atlassian jira

and you want the term "atlassian" to be more relevant boost it using the ^ symbol along with the boost factor next to the term. You would type:

atlassian^4 jira

This will make documents with the term atlassian appear more relevant. You can also boost Phrase Terms as in the example:

"atlassian jira"^4 querying

By default, the boost factor is 1. Although, the boost factor must be positive, it can be less than 1 (i.e. .2)

Boolean operators

Boolean operators allow terms to be combined through logic operators. JIRA supports AND, "+", OR, NOT and "-" as Boolean operators.

Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS.


The OR operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the OR operator is used. The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching document if either of the terms exist in a document. This is equivalent to a union using sets. The symbol || can be used in place of the word OR.

To search for documents that contain either "atlassian jira" or just "confluence" use the query:

"atlassian jira" || confluence


"atlassian jira" OR confluence


The AND operator matches documents where both terms exist anywhere in the text of a single document. This is equivalent to an intersection using sets. The symbol && can be used in place of the word AND.

To search for documents that contain "atlassian jira" and "issue tracking" use the query:

"atlassian jira" AND "issue tracking"

Required term: +

The "+" or required operator requires that the term after the "+" symbol exist somewhere in a the field of a single document.

To search for documents that must contain "jira" and may contain "atlassian" use the query:

+jira atlassian


The NOT operator excludes documents that contain the term after NOT. This is equivalent to a difference using sets. The symbol ! can be used in place of the word NOT.

To search for documents that contain "atlassian jira" but not "japan" use the query:

"atlassian jira" NOT "japan"

Note: The NOT operator cannot be used with just one term. For example, the following search will return no results:

NOT "atlassian jira"

Usage of the NOT operator over multiple fields may return results that include the specified excluded term. This is due to the fact that the search query is executed over each field in turn and the result set for each field is combined to form the final result set. Hence, an issue that matches the search query based on one field, but fails based on another field, will be included in the search result set.

Excluded term: -

The "-" or prohibit operator excludes documents that contain the term after the "-" symbol.

To search for documents that contain "atlassian jira" but not "japan" use the query:

"atlassian jira" -japan


JIRA supports using parentheses to group clauses to form sub queries. This can be very useful if you want to control the boolean logic for a query.

To search for bugs and either atlassian or jira, use the query:

bugs AND (atlassian OR jira)

This eliminates any confusion and makes sure you that bugs must exist and either term atlassian or jira may exist.

Do not use the grouping character '(' at the start of a search query, as this will result in an error. For example, "(atlassian OR jira) AND bugs" will not work.

Escaping special characters: \ or \\

JIRA supports the ability to search issues for special characters by escaping them in your query syntax. The current list of such characters is:

+ - & | ! ( ) { } [ ] ^ ~ * ? \ :

To escape these characters, type a backslash character '\' before the special character (or if using Advanced Searching, type two backslashes '\\' before the special character).

For example, to search for (1+1) in either a simple or quick search, use the query:


and to search for [example] in the summary of an advanced search (in JIRA Query Language or JQL), use the query:

summary ~ "\\[example\\]"

Please note: If you are using Advanced Searching — please see Reserved Characters for more information about how these characters and others are escaped in JIRA Query Language.


JRA-40790 - Searching for JIRA issues containing special characters (in text fields) Resolved :

Comment from a developer:

When analysing text we remove all punctuation. This is independent of language and other options. The first process we use is to tokenize the text. To do this we use Lucene's ClassicTokenizer which:

  • Splits words at punctuation characters, removing punctuation. However, a dot that's not followed by whitespace is considered part of a token.
  • Splits words at hyphens, unless there's a number in the token, in which case the whole token is interpreted as a product number and is not split.
  • Recognizes email addresses and internet hostnames as one token.

As a result the "[" and "]" characters are neither added to the index or retained in the phrase query.

Reserved words

To keep the search index size and search performance optimal in JIRA, the following English reserved words (also known as 'stop words') are ignored from the search index and hence, JIRA's text search features:

"a", "and", "are", "as", "at", "be", "but", "by", "for", "if", "in", "into", "is", "it", "no", "not", "of", "on", "or", "s", "such", "t", "that", "the", "their", "then", "there", "these", "they", "this", "to", "was", "will", "with"

Be aware that this can sometimes lead to unexpected results. For example, suppose one issue contains the text phrase "VSX will crash" and another issue contains the phrase "VSX will not crash". A text search for "VSX will crash" will return both of these issues. This is because the words will and not are part of the reserved words list.

(info) Your JIRA administrator can make JIRA index these reserved words (so that JIRA will find issues based on the presence of these words) by changing the Indexing Language to Other (under Administration > System > General Configuration ).

Word stemming

Since JIRA cannot search for issues containing parts of words (see below), word 'stemming' allows you to retrieve issues from a search based on the 'root' (or 'stem') forms of words instead of requiring an exact match with specific forms of these words. The number of issues retrieved from a search based on a stemmed word is typically larger, since any other issues containing words that are stemmed back to the same root, will also be retrieved in the search results.

For example, if you search for issues using the query term 'customize' on the Summary field, JIRA stems this word to its root form 'custom' and will retrieve all issues whose Summary field also contains any word that can be stemmed back to 'custom'. Hence, the following query:

summary ~ "customize"

will retrieve issues whose Summary field contains the following words:

  • customized
  • customizing
  • customs
  • customer
  • etc.

(info) Please Note:

  • Your JIRA administrator can disable word stemming (so that JIRA will find issues based on exact matches with words) by changing the Indexing Language to Other (under Administration > System > General Configuration ).
  • Word stemming applies to all JIRA fields (as well as text fields).
  • When JIRA indexes its fields, any words that are 'stemmed' are stored in JIRA's search index in root form only.


Please note that the following limitations apply to JIRA's search:

Whole words only

JIRA cannot search for issues containing parts of words but on whole words only. The exception to this are words which are stemmed.

This limitation can also be overcome using fuzzy searches.

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