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Databases Search Tips: Truncation

What to look for

  • Root words that have multiple endings.  Example: sun = suns, sunshine, sunny, sunlight
  • Words that are spelled differently, but mean the same thing.  Example:  color, colour
  • Truncation/wildcard symbols vary by database.  Check the help screens to find out which symbols are used.

About truncation and wildcards

Truncation:

Truncation, also called stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings.

    • To use truncation, enter the root of a word and put the truncation symbol at the end.
  • The database will return results that include any ending of that root word.

 

    • Examples:
      child* = child, children, childhood
      genetic* = genetic, genetics, genetically
  • Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: *, !, ?, or #

 


Wildcards:

Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word.

  • This is useful if a word is spelled in different ways, but still has the same meaning.
     
  • Examples:
    wom!n = woman, women
    colo?r = color, colour

If you have questions about applying this technique to your search, Ask a Librarian