By Robbie Lee | January 16, 2015

A common complaint about wikis is the difficulty in finding relevant content. Often, you can attribute this issue to excessive amounts of duplicated, inaccurate, empty, poorly-constructed or poorly-written content.

To create and maintain Confluence as a reliable source of information, you need knowledgable people to periodically review and update your site. If your company lacks these resources, each user must learn how to find accurate and relevant information. One catch though, how do you find that same information repeatedly and quickly? Check out the Mark Content for Later tab for ideas.

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In most cases, you use the search box to find site content. You can enter simple or advanced queries. Let's start with a simple query.

As I type, the quick navigation shows results.

I can choose from this list or navigate to a more complete list.

The results here show pages and an image.

Also notice that I have a few filters options on the left. Let's test a few.

You can mimic these filters using advanced query syntax.

Instead of searching for the same content over and over, you can keep track of it in various ways.

One option is to favorite a page.

Viewing your favorites is easy.

Another option is to create a list in your personal space.

You can also tag pages with a label specific to you or your job.

You can then search for these pages using advanced query syntax.

When running a search query for the first time, you'll rely heavily on simple text. However, you may find that advanced queries are appropriate for targeting specific content quickly. 

Simple Search

A simple search is text-only, no special characters or prefixes. Within the search box, type any word or phrase, and Confluence returns results that contain content matches for one or more of the words.

Advanced Search

Like most, the search engine behind Confluence accepts advanced query syntax for:

  • Boolean expressions
  • exact phrases
  • exclusions
  • proximities
  • ranges
  • wildcards

An added bonus is the ability to search against fields in the database. You can search for:

  • types of content
  • labels
  • page titles
  • macros
  • space keys

Examples of Advanced Queries

Here are a few examples of advanced search queries.

Search TypeExample

theme AND palette

 theme OR palette
 theme NOT default
Exact Phrase"theme tab"
Exclusionarchitect tab -page
Proximity"theme tab"~0
Date Range

created:[20140101 TO 20150101]


modified:[20140101 TO 20150101]

Content Typetype:attachment
Page Titletitle:"Confluence 101"
Space Keyspacekey:Doc
Boolean and Exact Phrase"theme tab" AND "color palette"
Boolean and LabellabelText:administrator OR labelText:architect
Exact Phrase and Label"theme tab" AND labelText:designer
Wildcard, Exclusion, Grouping and Booleantab* -(page OR architect OR theme)

Once you enter text in the Confluence search box, you have two avenues for viewing results: quick navigation and standard (full). As you populate results, pay attention to the icon in front of each item. These icons inform you of content type.

Content TypeIcon Quick NavigationStandard (Full)
Administrative (tick)(error)
Attachment (Adobe) (tick)(tick)
Attachment (Excel) (tick)(tick)
Attachment (Image) (tick)(tick)
Attachment (PowerPoint) (tick)(tick)
Attachment (Word) (tick)(tick)
Comment (error)(tick)
Page (tick)(tick)
Personal Space (error)(tick)
Space (tick)(tick)
User Profile(Avatar) (tick)(error)
User Profile (error)(tick)

Do search results include the content within attachments?

Yes, Confluence indexes and searches content in the following attachments:

  • Adobe PDF
  • HTML
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Word
  • Text

New and Updated Content

The Confluence indexer runs every minute. Therefore, you may need to wait before seeing new or updated content in search results.

Quick Navigation

The quick navigation aid appears as a dropdown list below the search box. These results may include pages, spaces, administrative options, user profiles and other items. As you enter text in the search box, the results update to show possible matches.

Title Matching

Confluence matches your query against page titles. Therefore, you will not see results when your query matches content within pages.

Standard (Full)

A standard (or full) search involves matching your query with content in spaces, user profiles, attachments and space descriptions. You initiate this type of search by hitting the Enter key or clicking the magnifying glass at the bottom of the quick navigation results. Results appear on a separate page.

Once you view the results of a standard (full) search, you can filter your results by:

  • author
  • space
  • last modified date
  • content type

If locating good content is a challenge, you have a few options for re-discovering it easily.


You can mark any page you have permission to view as a favorite. You can also access your list of favorites. One down side to this list is the inability to categorize it. As you add items, you may begin to lose track of the most important pages. With this issue in mind, try to minimize the number of pages you mark as a favorite.

List of Links by Category

Another option for tracking pages is a categorized list of links on your personal space. This list requires upkeep but grants you the ability of customization. 


If your company allows you to add page labels, take advantage of this time-saving option. Each time you find a page of interest, add a label that is specific to you or your job. Later on, search for those pages using the advanced labelText: syntax. Here are some label examples.



  • nike
  • adidas
  • puma
  • high
  • moderate
  • low
  • mars
  • pluto
  • jupiter
  • one-star
  • two-stars
  • three-stars