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Article Search Tips: Wild Cards & Truncation

This guide provides tips that can be used when searching for articles in databases; including how to locate the full text of articles.

Wild Cards

  • A  wild card is a symbol used to replace a letter within a word.
  • It can be a different symbol in different databases, but the ? (question mark ) and the * (asterisk) are the most common.
  • A search for d?g will find articles with words such as: dig, dog, dug, etc.
  • This can be useful if you are searching for a word and are not sure of the spelling.
  • It can also cause you to get too many irrelevant results.

 

Search with a  Wild Card

d?g

 

The search will retrieve these:

  • Dogs rule the world.
  • Cats dig ruling the world.
  • I dug a hole in the ground.

Truncation

  • Truncation is when a symbol is used to replace a string of letters at the end of a word.
  • It can be a different symbol in different databases, but the ? (question mark ) and the * (asterisk) are the most common.
  • This can be useful if you are searching for a word and want to find things such as plural forms (cats) or are not interested in the tense of the word (finish, finished, finishing)
  • It can also cause you to get too many irrelevant results (cat, cats, catapult, cathedral, catheter, etc.), so in this case a search for (cat OR cats) would work better.

 

Search with Truncation

cat*

 

The search will retrieve these:

  • A cat will rule the world
  • Cats dig ruling the world.
  • The dog used the catapult to get over the fence.
  • The cathedral was beautiful.
  • He needed a catheter after surgery.
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