Authors with Short Last Names are Difficult to Search For

In Paperpile, when you type the first 3 letters in the search, paperpile will start to suggest things:

Paperpile will either suggest papers based off of title, abstract, or author name. The most obvious way to search if you know the first author of your paper of interest is to type their name (i.e. to find the above paper I typed “Rut” and paperpile suggested the correct paper.

Unfortuently, this feature does not work well if the first authors last name is shorter than 3 letters. For example, if I want to look up a paper I know was written by “He”, paperpile will fail to suggest an option:
Search for Paper by First Author’s Last Name, receive no suggestion:

Paper I wish to find:

To find the paper, I would need to know additional information other than the authors name.
I assume that the search not activating until 3 letters is to reduce the number of erronious lookups (something that I appreciate, as other “to be unnamed” paper service are natorious for this).

Fix suggestion to prevent erronious lookups while accepting short last names: For the first 2 letters a user types, only suggest papers based on last name of authors (i.e., do not suggest papers based on paper name or abstract). So if I type in “He” I would be suggested the above paper, but I would not be suggested a paper titled “Health in the United States”. If I typed in “Hea” I would be suggested the latter.

AFAIK, the Paperpile search searches across all fields so authors and title snippets can be combined. For example, “he rna” or “he ves”. In addition, searching for "he " may work.


I like your suggestion of adding a space ("He "), it seems to work fairly reliably. I still think it would be nice if the search was instigated at 2 characters for last names, but this is a nice workarround.

I’d like to +1 this issue. I have several papers I frequently cite where the first author has a name such as “He” or “Di”. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to force Paperpile to search for these papers in the Word app, and even when using the online interface Paperpile seems to struggle with such short author names - presumably because the text will turn up somewhere in a huge number of documents. When searching for a study called “Air pollution and mortality in the medicare population” by Di et al. (2017), searching for “Di air pollution mortality” (or any combination of Di and the following three words) does not return the correct result but rather a host of papers which are relevant to the last three words. Is there some way to force Paperpile to look specifically for a first author with a specific last name (since that is how most papers are referred to and therefore remembered)? If not, could such a feature be implemented?

Although searching for less than three characters will still not be possible, the search function improvements mentioned in our roadmap include phrase search and targeted/field-specific results. This will initially be implemented in the library and later make its way to the Docs/Word citation dialogs.

This is still a problem in Jan 23… cannot search for author “Li” among my papers

Searching for papers by authors with two letter names has been improved in the new Paperpile web app, in beta. While you still can’t do search with less than 3 characters, you can specifically look up authors with the Quick Lookup feature, so you can type “Li,” select that author from a dropdown menu, and the papers by the author will be shown.