Search syntax for text fields

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This page provides information on the syntax for searching text fields, which can be done in quick search and basic search (when searching on supported fields), as well as in advanced search (when the CONTAINS (~) operator is used).

On this page:

Query terms

A query is broken up into terms and operators. There are two types of terms: single terms (e.g. "hello") and phrases (e.g. "hello dolly"). Query terms in Jira are not case-sensitive. 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.

Term searches

You can search for multiple character wildcard searches using * at the end of a word. Multiple character wildcard searches enclosed in quotation marks looks for 0 or more characters. For example, to search for Windows, Win95, or WindowsNT, you can use the search:


Unsupported term searches:

  • A single character search ( ? ) will automatically convert to a wildcard search ( * ) at the end of the term.
  • Operators for fuzzy search ( ~ ), proximity search, and term boosting ( ^ ) no longer have an affect on searches. When these operators are present in a search, they will be ignored.

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 exists 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"

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


You can use parentheses to group clauses to form sub queries, which can be very helpful 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 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.

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.

Note for Jira administrators:

You can make Jira Cloud find issues based on the presence of these reserved 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.

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.
Last modified on Sep 12, 2017

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