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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:

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:

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

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:

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

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:



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:

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:


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:

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

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:


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:

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:

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:

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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35 Archived comments

  1. User avatar


    The default search pattern of all major search engines on this planet use the AND operator by default (all terms must appear int he result:

    If you add more terms to the search, it is refined -> you get less results.

    In Jira, the default is OR, so you need to use "+" to refine a search.

    Switching to the refining AND instead of the widening OR pattern would enhance Jira's usability.

    01 Dec 2010
  2. User avatar


    WHY does it only search whole words?  This makes it impossible to find anything at the beginning of a line if you don't know the whole word!!!!

    For example, if I have a subject: "xAnything" but I don't know that somebody accidentally typed an extra character at the start of the subject, I will never be able to find it (because *Anything also won't work, since I can't put * at the beginning!!!).

    This is the most retarded search ever, why not use industry standards?

    04 Feb 2011
    1. User avatar

      Amul Shah

      See the "acknowledgements" section. Alsatian is using Lucene for text indexing.

      07 Apr 2011
    1. User avatar


      Agreed, java has numerous exception classes which all end with 'Exception'.  But since you cannot search "*Exception" it is very difficult to search for all issues that contain a stack trace.

      20 Aug 2012
    1. User avatar


      100% agree with this comment - the ability to search for part of a word is essential (with the start and end unknown) - either add support or add some other plugin/workaround etc.  This is core to any issue tracking system I would think.

      07 Nov 2012
  3. User avatar

    Danilo Navarro

    My PM created issues with a designation of backend or frontend by using the abbreviations BE or FE.  I was trying to create a query to find all issues currently assigned to him that have "BE" in the summary.  However, since 'be' is a reserved word, the query doesn't return anything.  Is there a way to escape the reserved word be so that I can create this type of query?


    14 Apr 2011
  4. User avatar


    How to find all issues? What query to use?

    08 May 2011
    1. User avatar


      select * from jiraissue

      20 Sep 2011
  5. User avatar


    Is there a way to search for non-empty fields?

    Is there a way to search for empty fields?

    11 May 2011
    1. User avatar



      for non empty  : 'field' not empty

      for empty  : 'field' is empty

      20 Sep 2011
  6. User avatar


    How can I search for items which contain the word 'profiler'?  Every search combination I try returns results for the hundreds of items which contain the word 'profile' instead.

    24 Oct 2011
  7. User avatar


    The list of words that is define as Reserved, where is it taken from? I could not find it on Lucene documentation.

    Another question - is there a list of reserved words in other languages as well?



    03 Jan 2012
  8. User avatar


    hi all,

    is it possible in JIRA 5.0 to impelement a full text search field, which can be used to search one or more terms parallel in JIRA and CONFLUENCE to get a list of issues and pages, that contains the search patterns

     thx boris



    24 Apr 2012
  9. User avatar


    Hi All,


    How can I find all the issues where I left comments? Is it possible in Jira?

    17 Jul 2012
  10. User avatar


    Honestly - searching is pretty important.  Will the system break if you modify search to look for underscores?  Its a search - it is not an input to the system to be stored and possibly affect functionality afaik

    Why is this not just a simple fix?


    27 Jul 2012
    1. User avatar


      Proximity Search doesn't work either.

      As a work-around to my problem stated above about underscores not being supported in search, I tried the following "proximity searches" and none of them work.

      These searches return anything that has "order" in it when I am actually looking for "order_by"

      "order by"~0

      "order by"~1

      "order by"~2

      27 Jul 2012
      1. User avatar


        Late reply is late, but I have a fix. First, ~0 will not work. (How can a word be 0 words away from another?) For the others, try:

        text ~ "\"order by\"~1

        text ~ "\"order by\"~2


        Works for me in JIRA 5.2.

        27 Jun 2013
  11. User avatar

    Trevor Hungerford

    Is there a way to search for issues that have recently been commented?


    15 Aug 2012
  12. User avatar


    we have a custom field for "tagging" of type text as far as I can see.

    Is there a way to do boolean logic on the tags? when I use the lucene ~ operator, it confuses things, e.g. searching for "foo" finds tags foo and foo-bar.

    I somehow want to break the custom text-field down to an enumeration of words and then use a contains operator.

    How can we do that ?



    02 Jan 2013
  13. User avatar


    how to ignore whitespaces in jql?


    11 Mar 2013
  14. User avatar


    reporter = mark kelvin

    is the simple jql query.

    how to ignore the spaces between mark and kelvin?


    11 Mar 2013
  15. User avatar


    Searching for the following

      summary ~ "example"

    shows results that start with "[example]".


    But, the following returns zero results:

      summary ~ "\\[example\\]"


    What am I missing?


    13 Apr 2013
  16. User avatar


    Let's say you have several status types that are similarly named - Cancelled, Cancelled by Project Mgr, and Cancelled by Approver. How can you see all of those statuses without listing them all out?

    None of these queries work:

    status = "can~"

    status = "can*"

    status in ("can~")

    status in ("can*")

    22 May 2013
  17. User avatar

    Dieter Greiner

    In JIRA 4.4.5 the following used to work

    summary ~ "AAF* or AF*"


    in JIRA 5.2.11 i have to uppercase it

    summary ~ "AAF* OR AF*"
    was this announced somewhere?
    12 Jun 2013
  18. User avatar


    Where can i find a complete list of all keywords that exists in JIRA?

    28 Oct 2013
  19. User avatar

    Susan Griffin [Atlassian]

    Hello, Supported JQL queries and keywords are listed here: Advanced Searching.



    28 Oct 2013
  20. User avatar

    Chuping Wu

    Wild card seems not working with ohter languange such as chinese,for example: "aaaa*" works with "aaaa0.0.9" and "1111aaaa0.0.9", but "测试任务*" does not work with "测试任务0.0.9" and "1111测试任务0.0.0".

    06 Nov 2013
  21. User avatar


    Is there a way to perform search against the Summary field in created (old) issues when posting a new issue? I.e from the New Issue dialog/screen, and a "autocomplete" search in the Summary field of the form, that will return suggestions on already created issues. And therby let you take a look at the suggestions before posting a new issue.

    12 Feb 2014
  22. User avatar

    Mark Symons

    The link in the Acknowledgements section:


    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.

    ...gives an HTTP 404 error.   It also attempts to link to Lucene v3.2 documentation, whereas JIRA v6.3.x seems to use Lucene v3.3.  Suggest linking to:


    23 Sep 2014
    1. User avatar

      Warren Thompson

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the catch, I've updated the relevant docs.



      24 Sep 2014
  23. User avatar

    Ulrich Weiß

    The meaning of point (.) is not described here. Apparently (.) is used to seperate words.

    If you have one word like all java packages (eg. "org.eclipse.datatools.enablement.oda.xml"), this will no be found, if you enter a part of the word with a point (eg. "org.eclipse") as search string....

    29 Oct 2014
  24. User avatar

    Zane Perry

    Escaping parenthesis is not working.


    summary ~ "\\(Sales\\)"

    Does not return results with (Sales) in it.

    I opened a question for support but this appears to be a bug.



    02 Dec 2014
  25. User avatar

    anand kumar

    how to find specific summary 

    27 Feb 2015
  26. User avatar

    Siddheshwar mhetre

    Confluence search not able to search wide characters i.e. I want search http://confluence.xyz.com:8090

    So search results not able search "://" these characters.

    Is there any way to search wide characters as well? 

    29 Apr 2015
  27. User avatar

    Evangelos Vrocharis

    Can we make it a bit clearer about the escaping of special characters? I know you have added the limitation snippet but I think it needs to be made even more clear as it's still confusing.

    If I understand it correctly, special characters are simple NOT searchable as they get stripped and not even indexed. All escaping them does is including them in the search string without throwing an error. They get ignored anyway. 

    03 Jul 2015
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