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I'm trying to customize the Search Core Results on a 2007 website and do not have Designer available to me. The default search look and feel is a big google-esque, but I want to mirror the look of a list or a tight table showing the Item name, last modification date, and a few other fields from the list that is being searched.

Is there a way to customize the XML for searches without connecting the site to sharepoint designer?

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Yep, you can:

  1. Create your own XSL file to style the XML result set, edit the search results page, edit the core results web part and use your custom style via copy+paste.
  2. Create custom CSS to change how the elements in the OOTB search results grid look, include this in the page using a Content Editor Web part
  3. Both of the above.

Neither of these require designer. Not saying this approach is easier, it can avoid the use of designer though.

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