What does it mean when a database offers a soundex search?
Soundex sorts together surnames that sound similar but have different spellings. A soundex code begins with the first letter of the surname followed by a three-digit code that represents the first three remaining consonants. Zeros will be added to names that do not have enough letters to be coded.
Calculate the soundex codes for your surname.
Searching a genealogy database using a soundex search option is a way of doing a phonetic search. Searching for Johnson in a database with a soundex search will bring results that include Johnson, Johnsson, Johnsen, Johanson and any other surname that has the soundex code of J525.
Even if you think your surname has always been spelled the same, the name may have been mis-transcribed into the database.
It's not a good idea to begin a database search with a soundex search as you will receive many more results than from a non-soundex search. A soundex search is best after being unsuccessful in a first search OR if you are unsure how to spell a name.
Some genealogy databases offer soundex searches. Take a look at the little pull-down tab on the search box. If it offers a soundex search in addtion to an exact search, take advantage!