Searching QuerySets

Wagtail search is built on Django’s QuerySet API. You should be able to search any Django QuerySet provided the model and the fields being filtered on have been added to the search index.

Searching Pages

Wagtail provides a shortcut for searching pages: the .search() QuerySet method. You can call this on any PageQuerySet. For example:

# Search future EventPages
>>> from wagtail.core.models import EventPage
>>> EventPage.objects.filter("Hello world!")

All other methods of PageQuerySet can be used with search(). For example:

# Search all live EventPages that are under the events index
[<EventPage: Event 1>, <EventPage: Event 2>]


The search() method will convert your QuerySet into an instance of one of Wagtail’s SearchResults classes (depending on backend). This means that you must perform filtering before calling search().

Searching Images, Documents and custom models

Wagtail’s document and image models provide a search method on their QuerySets, just as pages do:

>>> from wagtail.images.models import Image

>>> Image.objects.filter(uploaded_by_user=user).search("Hello")
[<Image: Hello>, <Image: Hello world!>]

Custom models can be searched by using the search method on the search backend directly:

>>> from myapp.models import Book
>>> from import get_search_backend

# Search books
>>> s = get_search_backend()
>>>"Great", Book)
[<Book: Great Expectations>, <Book: The Great Gatsby>]

You can also pass a QuerySet into the search method which allows you to add filters to your search results:

>>> from myapp.models import Book
>>> from import get_search_backend

# Search books
>>> s = get_search_backend()
>>>"Great", Book.objects.filter(published_date__year__lt=1900))
[<Book: Great Expectations>]

Changing search behaviour

Search operator

The search operator specifies how search should behave when the user has typed in multiple search terms. There are two possible values:

  • “or” - The results must match at least one term (default for Elasticsearch)
  • “and” - The results must match all terms (default for database search)

Both operators have benefits and drawbacks. The “or” operator will return many more results but will likely contain a lot of results that aren’t relevant. The “and” operator only returns results that contain all search terms, but require the user to be more precise with their query.

We recommend using the “or” operator when ordering by relevance and the “and” operator when ordering by anything else (note: the database backend doesn’t currently support ordering by relevance).

Here’s an example of using the operator keyword argument:

# The database contains a "Thing" model with the following items:
# - Hello world
# - Hello
# - World

# Search with the "or" operator
>>> s = get_search_backend()
>>>"Hello world", Things, operator="or")

# All records returned as they all contain either "hello" or "world"
[<Thing: Hello World>, <Thing: Hello>, <Thing: World>]

# Search with the "and" operator
>>> s = get_search_backend()
>>>"Hello world", Things, operator="and")

# Only "hello world" returned as that's the only item that contains both terms
[<Thing: Hello world>]

For page, image and document models, the operator keyword argument is also supported on the QuerySet’s search method:

>>>"Hello world", operator="or")

# All pages containing either "hello" or "world" are returned
[<Page: Hello World>, <Page: Hello>, <Page: World>]

Custom ordering

By default, search results are ordered by relevance, if the backend supports it. To preserve the QuerySet’s existing ordering, the order_by_relevance keyword argument needs to be set to False on the search() method.

For example:

# Get a list of events ordered by date
>>> EventPage.objects.order_by('date').search("Event", order_by_relevance=False)

# Events ordered by date
[<EventPage: Easter>, <EventPage: Halloween>, <EventPage: Christmas>]

Annotating results with score

For each matched result, Elasticsearch calculates a “score”, which is a number that represents how relevant the result is based on the user’s query. The results are usually ordered based on the score.

There are some cases where having access to the score is useful (such as programmatically combining two queries for different models). You can add the score to each result by calling the .annotate_score(field) method on the SearchQuerySet.

For example:

>>> events ="Event").annotate_score("_score")
>>> for event in events:
...    print(event.title, event._score)
("Easter", 2.5),
("Haloween", 1.7),
("Christmas", 1.5),

Note that the score itself is arbitrary and it is only useful for comparison of results for the same query.

An example page search view

Here’s an example Django view that could be used to add a “search” page to your site:


from django.shortcuts import render

from wagtail.core.models import Page
from import Query

def search(request):
    # Search
    search_query = request.GET.get('query', None)
    if search_query:
        search_results =

        # Log the query so Wagtail can suggest promoted results
        search_results = Page.objects.none()

    # Render template
    return render(request, 'search_results.html', {
        'search_query': search_query,
        'search_results': search_results,

And here’s a template to go with it:

{% extends "base.html" %}
{% load wagtailcore_tags %}

{% block title %}Search{% endblock %}

{% block content %}
    <form action="{% url 'search' %}" method="get">
        <input type="text" name="query" value="{{ search_query }}">
        <input type="submit" value="Search">

    {% if search_results %}
            {% for result in search_results %}
                    <h4><a href="{% pageurl result %}">{{ result }}</a></h4>
                    {% if result.search_description %}
                        {{ result.search_description|safe }}
                    {% endif %}
            {% endfor %}
    {% elif search_query %}
        No results found
    {% else %}
        Please type something into the search box
    {% endif %}
{% endblock %}