Search Auto-Complete Feature Added to NLM Main Web Site, MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en Español
In November 2011, the National Library of Medicine® (NLM®) released a search box auto-complete feature for the NLM main Web site, MedlinePlus® and MedlinePlus en español. Auto-complete improves the search experience on these sites by:
- suggesting relevant terms and phrases as users begin typing;
- helping users execute searches and arrive at a focused set of results more quickly;
- guiding users to content that exists on the site;
- providing accurate spellings to help users avoid misspellings; and
- suggesting new lines of inquiry for users exploring a topic.
As a user types a query, a list of suggested terms and/or phrases displays dynamically beneath the search box (see Figure 1). The suggested terms appear after three or more letters are entered into the box. The suggestions begin with or contain the word and/or phrase in the search query. Letters not yet typed appear in bold. As a user types more letters, the suggestions automatically update to reflect different terms or phrases. No more than five terms and/or phrases appear in the suggestion list for each query. A light gray bar highlights the suggestions as a cursor scrolls up or down the list. Users can also use the arrow keys on their keyboards to navigate through the list. Once a user clicks on the preferred term or phrase, the suggestion populates the search box, and the search engine executes the query.
Figure 1: Auto-complete suggestions for "index"
on the NLM main Web search.
Figure 2: The auto-complete feature appears in search boxes throughout the MedlinePlus site.
Figure 3: The auto-complete feature appears in search boxes throughout the MedlinePlus en español site.
Figure 4: The auto-complete feature appears in search boxes throughout the NLM main Web site.
Burgess S. and Dine B. Search Auto-Complete Feature Added to NLM Main Web Site, MedlinePlus and MedlinePlus en Español. NLM Tech Bull. 2011 Nov-Dec;(383):e2.