In addition to seeing the content of all the fields (if the record provided that information), subscribers have had some additional search options besides the wildcard options that everyone is free to use. Generally the default options along with usage of wildcard characters is all that's needed. But some options available only to subscribers have been added and are the subjects of this article. At the bottom of each search form, there are three options, Normal, Soundex, and Look-alike.
Normal is the default option for searching and what you are most likely to use-- the results match (in some way) the names as you have entered them on the form. Normal is the default used for the public portions of the databases and yet still very powerful.
Another search option is Soundex. If you have used US Census records, you probably have some familiarity with it. Names may be spelled differently but otherwise sound the same when pronounced. Soundex lets us find sound-alike names of those who might be relatives with alternative spellings. Specifically, this site uses the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex which handles Eastern European languages better than the traditional Soundex used by the census. I would class the Soundex option as a desperation option-- when you can't find what you are looking for elsewhere, try this. If not careful, you could get mostly irrelevant matches so be prepared to narrow your search down by including a given name (which you are often advised not to include).
The last search option is Look-alike. Whereas Soundex searches for sound-alike names, this option searches for look-alike names. The way some letters are formed in cursive handwriting are similar and can make distinguishing one from another difficult. So even though the person who recorded the name "got it right", the reader (on this site, me) might not be so lucky. I developed a coding system to address some of the common look-alike situations. It won't be perfect because a lot depends on handwriting style. But again, we're handling the most common situations. The Look-alike option is also a desperation option-- when you can't find what you are looking for elsewhere, try this.
For both the Soundex and Look-alike options, you must include an entry in the surname box. Your entry must also be complete-- in other words, the match-first option is not used even if selected. For example, I might enter Rogal in a Normal search to find Rogalski and pick up Rogala, Rogalinski, and possibly others as well. But Rogal in a Soundex search will not find Rogalski because Rogalski has a different sounding syllable that Rogal does not. If you are curious and just want to try the Soundex and Look-alike options, that is perfectly all right.
Each database has subscriber options that go beyond looking for the principal-- the person the record is about. Some allow you to search by father or mother so that you can find other children you may not have known about. Subscribers can also search the Notes field where names and even locations might even be found.