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Thursday, 31 January 2013
Home arrow Archived pages arrow How to search OED arrow First quotations by author
Author quotations
Note: this page is now out of date following changes to the OED Online website made in December 2010.

How to search for the number of quotations by an author

  1. Make sure you are in ADVANCED SEARCH.
  2. Click on the QUOTATIONS tab. It should turn red.
  3. Enter the author's surname in the first search box (e.g. blake) and select QUOTATION AUTHOR from the drop-down menu. Do not enter an initial (e.g. w. blake) as this will narrow the number of results you will find. If the author's surname has variant forms, enter them as in the following example to find them both at the same time:
    1. defoe in QUOTATION AUTHOR
    2. OR in OPERATION A
    3. de foe in QUOTATION AUTHOR
    4. Elizabeth Barrett Browning is another problematic author: you need to search for e. b. browning OR mrs. browning (as in the Defoe example) to find all of her quotations.
  4. Click START SEARCH. For Blake you should find 731 results in OED3.
  5. When the results appear, click the QUOTATION DATE tab to order the results chronologically rather than alphabetically. It should turn red.
  6. Select 1000 PER PAGE from the drop-down menu on the top right and click SHOW. This will make examining the results easier.
  7. Note the date of the first quotation by your chosen author. For Blake this is 1780 (85 frightened, ppl. a.).
  8. Scroll down the list, ensuring that all the quotations are by your chosen author. Blake appears as both Blake and W. Blake. For Fielding there are a number of other Fieldings who were writing during his lifetime (e.g. S. Fielding, Sir J. Fielding and C. J. Fielding). Remove these using the following method:
    1. From the results page, click the ADVANCED SEARCH tab if searching OED3; or the SEARCH tab for OED2. This will take you back to the initial search screen. Do not click back in your browser as this will nullify the search you have just done.
    2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to check that your previous search is listed in the LAST 10 SEARCHES. This will not appear if you clicked back in your browser rather than on the ADVANCED SEARCH or SEARCH tabs.
    3. From the panel on the right-hand side, click the checkbox to RESTRICT SEARCH TO RESULTS OF PREVIOUS SEARCH, making sure that the radio button is selected. Alternatively, you could select the other radio button and enter the relevant number from the list of searches already carried out at the bottom of the page.
    4. Enter in the second and third search boxes the names of the authors you wish to exclude (e.g. s. fielding and sir j. fielding). Enter only one author in each search box. If you need to exclude more than two authors, exclude two to begin with, then, when you get the results, repeat the same process from 8.1 onwards. Alternatively, if there are many other authors you wish to exclude, you can use wildcards, which allow you to filter your results in various ways. So for example, to exclude both s. fielding and sir j. fielding at once, enter [sj] in the second search box
    5. Select AND NOT from the drop-down menu for OPERATION A and QUOTATION AUTHOR. Do the same for OPERATION B if you are excluding more than one author.
    6. Click START SEARCH. The results produced will find, for example, Fielding and H. Fielding, but not S. Fielding or Sir J. Fielding.
  9. Note the date of the last quotation by your chosen author. For Blake this is 1828 (217 connoisseur, n.).
  10. The number of quotations by the author is therefore the difference between the count number of the first and last quotations. The number of quotations by Blake in OED3 is therefore calculated as follows:
217 – 85 + 1 = 133
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 October 2011 )
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