A information retrieval system wherein design and content are separated. Within a section of a title, a designer can layout pages with controls that define areas for content to be inserted into the pages. Two commonly used controls in the system are a static story control, wherein a preselected story is statically placed on a page in the area defined by the control, and a dynamic story control, wherein the designer defines search objects to retrieve stories. An information retrieval (IR) server indexes and searches stories in titles. Indexing takes place when a title is released to the network by a publisher workstation. The IR server interrelates title, section and story objects by their globally unique identifiers and creates a routing table which is used to locate objects across multiple database partitions. The IR search service is requested in two different ways at customer runtime. The first way is the resolution of the search objects to retrieve matching stories. The retrieved stories are concatenated and poured into the area defined by the dynamic control when the title is viewed. In the second way, the IR search service is requested when a search is initiated by a customer using a "find" dialog to search across all stories in one or more titles, both dynamic and static.