GeneCards Search Guide

Search Features

  • GeneCards uses stemming in all of its searches so that similar words will be found rather than just exact matches.

  • A search for multiple words (ex. zona pellucida) behaves as an AND at the gene level (i.e. each of the words must exist in at least one of the sections of the GeneCard). To search for a phrase, simply add quotes to your search. (see Query string syntax)

  • Parentheses should be used in searches for complex boolean strings in order to indicate precedence. Otherwise AND operations will take precedence over OR operations. See the example in Multiword Search. Please note that booleans must be capitalized. A search using "and" will not produce the same results as one using "AND".

Table of Contents

What Do I Get?

  • Hit Context (Minicard) - The search results are first displayed closed, showing the gene symbol, description, category, GCID and a relevance score. To open the minicard click on the plus to the left of the gene symbol on the appropriate minicard. All fields of the GeneCard in which your search term(s) were found will be displayed. The sections' names, which appear on the left, are linked to the corresponding sections in the GeneCard. All of the keywords entered in your search, including any variants found due to stemming, will be highlighted in the minicards.

    The minicard list is sorted by relevance (determined by the relevance scoring method).

  • GeneCard - A detailed display of all the data concerning a specific gene, including relevant links to other important websites.

More on: The GeneCard

Simple Search

Enter an expression into the search field on the GeneCards homepage and choose one of these to search by:

  • Symbol only - Brings up the GeneCard for the specified symbol. This is done by selecting the Symbol only button and typing the requested gene symbol in the search box.

  • Symbol/Alias - Searches the database for a gene name, or its alias. This is done by selecting the Symbol/Alias button and typing the requested symbol or alias for the gene in the search box.

  • Symbol/Alias/Identifier - Searches the database for a gene name, its alias, or another Identifier such as the GCid or an External Id (accessions from HGNC, EntrezGene, UniProt, and Ensembl). This is done by selecting the Symbol/Alias/Identifier button and typing the requested Id in the search box.

  • Keywords - Searches the database in a full free text search. This is done by selecting the (default) keywords button and typing any kind of text relevant to the search in the search box.


  • The GeneCards search is case insensitive.
  • All variants of your search terms that are found due to stemming will be highlighted in the search results.
  • When search terms are encapsulated with double quotes, exact match is made. Exact match enables you to determine the distance between two or more terms. The exact match ignores trivial words, like "a","and","then" etc. For example, searching "heart brain" would also retrieve the string "heart and a brain". You can also use Tilde (~) to determine the distance between the terms (excluding trivial words), e.g. :
    "heart brain"~50, would search for heart brain in the distance of maximum 50 words, excluding trivial words.

Wild card Searches

The * character serves as a wildcard, which matches all possible character strings (including no characters). Additionally, the ? characters can be used to represent 1 character. Wild cards can be used anywhere in the search string except as the first character.

For example:
Searching for acid* will find genes whose cards have the string acid, acidic, acidosis, and aciduria. Searching for acid? will yield those that have stings such as ACID2 and acidi. The term ac*d find acid, ACY1D, and ACD, while ac?d finds acid and ACAD-8, among others.

Note that this is different from stemming, which matches strings that are considered to be related to the specified keyword. Stemming allows the search for acid (no wild card) to find acid and acidic.

Advanced Search

Advanced search enables you to browse GeneCards for more specific results. A broader variety of search options is offered in order to focus the search.

Click the Advanced Search link next to the search box at the GeneCards homepage - a new page with more search options appears.

First enter your search term (e.g. Symbol, Alias, Identifier, keyword). Then choose which section of the GeneCard you would like to search in (e.g. location, summaries, pathways). The section dropdown is located to the right of the search term box.

If you wish to search in more than one field Click on the + button next to the search box to get another field to add more terms to your search, or to search in multiple fields within a GeneCard for your search terms. When adding another term in a separate field, you may choose to search for your first term AND your second term or to search for your first term OR your second term by changing the first select box in the new row from "and" to "or".

As in the simple search, you may enter multiple terms and explicit sub-queries in each search field. By default, only genes that contain all of the entered search terms will be displayed (AND behavior). To display results that contain any one of the entered search terms (OR behavior), change the select box on the right of the search term box from "and" to "or".

See Search Examples for more on advanced searches.

Search Examples:

I.   Simple Search:

Search String: Matching Words: Search Description:
brca1 brca1, BRCA1 Exact word match (case insensitive).*
NM_020469 NM_020469 RefSeq accession number

* A Keyword Search will result in a list of MiniCards, even if there is only one gene that matches your search.
  A Symbol Only Search with only one result will show the GeneCard itself right away!

II.   Wild Card Search (*):

This type of search will usually give out a large number of results.

Search String: Matching Words: Search Description:
live live, lives, liver, lively, lived, living Any object that begins with the string "live" or some derivative of "live" determined by the search engines stemming algorithm.
A search for live* will return many more results and will give priority to those that contain "liver" rather than "live", "lived", or "living".

* Please note that wild card searches using initial wild cards, for example *gammaglob*, are not supported in version 4.0 searches.

III.   Multiword Search:

Search String: Matching Words: Search Description:
obesity diabetes diabetes,with hyperproinsulinemia... for obesity in association with Ig
action profile in obese non-diabetic subjects.
Search behaves as if an AND was used(see the AND search below!)
obesity AND diabetes preponderance of insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus ... genetic predisposition to obesity
action profile in obese non-diabetic subjects.
All strings or variants of strings must exist in the GeneCard.
obesity OR diabetes obesity, obese, diabetes, diabetic At least one of the strings or its variants must exist in the GeneCard
(notice the difference from the AND search!)
(neurodegenerative OR senile) AND Alzheimer ...senile dementia of the Alzheimer type: relation with the cognitive state and with quantitative studies of senile plaques... Finds all instances of either neurodegenerative AND alzheimer or senile AND alzheimer.
"macular degeneration" associated with age-related macular degeneration type 4... Exact phrase search. All words in the order that they are entered must be in the GeneCard.

* In the search (neurodegenerative OR senile) AND Alzheimer the use of parentheses is important. Without parentheses the AND takes precedence in this search so that the results returned are for the neurodegenerative or senile AND alzheimer.

IV.   Advanced Search:

Example 1: Search by section. Finds all instances where the word angiogenesis is found in summaries and the word cancer is found anywhere in the entry.

Example 2: Search within the disorders section for alzheimers or dementia or within the literature section for those same keywords.

Relevance Scores

The search platform used is Elasticsearch 1.4.2 For more information about the scoring mechanism see: Theory Behind Relevance Scoring

Additional boosting is provided for the following annotations:

  • The Symbol
  • Aliases and Descriptions
  • Accessions for the major bioinformatics databases (NCBI, Ensembl, SwissProt)
  • Gene Summaries
  • Disorders

There is no additional transformation applied to the score