People need to be able to search for their saved recipes on my site.

They can give their recipes tags such as:

  • Desserts
  • Breads
  • Thanksgiving

In some cases they want to do an OR search: Show me recipes that are either Breads OR Desserts.

In some cases they want to do an AND search: Show me recipes that are Thanksgiving AND Desserts.

I have looked around and not found a simple way to do this. Something with checkboxes would be nice. However, it seems that checkboxes are typically OR. I.e. you check off all the categories that you are interested in.

It does not have to be fancy; either all AND or all OR.

My users will not understand boolean searches.

This is going to be the simple search, not the advanced one with lots of options and various drop-down boxes etc.

5 Answers 5


OR searches are probably how people understand searches by default* so have that as you default option.

Then underneath have a checkbox** that says:

[] Results must contain all words/tags/whatever

This way the user doesn't need to think about it if they just use the default. If the default isn't what they want they are presented with a single concept as an alternative.

*Maybe verify this with testing

**Or some other on/off switch.

  • This is probably the one that will work best for my users. Thanks. I will give it a try.
    – user295469
    Feb 10, 2014 at 6:38

A simple solution would be to give them two options below the search bar

  • Search for all tags
  • Search for any of the tags

So your design might look like this


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


Why not simply serve up results that are tabbed based on OR results and then one for AND? Results are probably much easier to pull than for a user to try and figure out the logic they want. For advanced users you could add these buttons or checkboxes but for most wouldn't giving them tabs All 3 (22), Desserts (500), Breads (112), Thanksgiving (55) be fastest and easiest to understand?


It might not be the most elegant solution, but I think a madlibs-type input would work here:

I want to look for breads and/or desserts

The bold text has a dropdown, and the and/or is a default selection that displays both in segregated lists like Mark Sloan said. The implication here is that you should be looking for one or the other, but both are available to you without having to re-start the search if you change your mind.


Results that meet the And rule will always also meet the Or rule. You could argue that the And results are more relevant for what the person entered and should appear at the top of the results. If you simply continue with the Or results after the And results the user doesn't even have to think about And / Or.

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