Why am I getting HOLLIS results that don't include all of my search terms?

I looked at all of the record details and my search terms aren't there.

While it is generally true that HOLLIS searches only the words that display in the record, there are a few exceptions specially designed to improve your search experience. 

If you don’t see your search terms in a record that was included in your results, it is likely that one of the following is true: 

  • your search terms included a common misspelling or an alternate spelling of a word that does appear in the record
  • your search terms matched to a separately linked table of contents
  • the record includes a common synonym for your search term 
  • your search terms matched a hidden cross-reference

More about HOLLIS’s hidden cross-references:

  • These include updated subject terms and alternate names. For example, a search for “landscape architecture” will return this master’s thesis on landscape architecture, even though those terms are not present in the displayed record. This is because HOLLIS has cross-referenced the name “Harvard University. Urban Design Program” to the name “Harvard University. Department of Landscape Architecture. Urban Design Program.”
  • Cross references can be accessed via the underlying record source: select “View Source (MARC)”
  • If you encounter a problematic cross-reference:


Have another HOLLIS question? Our HOLLIS User Guide provides an overview of HOLLIS's features and functions.


Service Alert:
  • Ask a Librarian, including chat and email, will be suspended on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24. Regular service hours will resume on Saturday. .
  • If you're experiencing an ongoing technical issue when you attempt to access library materials with your HarvardKey during this time, please report it to Library Technology Services.



Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm



Sunday 12noon-7pm

Chat is intended for brief inquiries from the Harvard community.


Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

These services are intended primarily for Harvard University faculty, staff and students. If you are not affiliated with Harvard, please use these services only to request information about the Library and its collections.