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Advanced Search Techniques


Truncation & Wildcards

Truncation uses an asterisk ( * ) or other symbols such as  !, ?, or # to search for multiple forms of the same root word. (Look for the database help page if you are unsure what symbols it uses.) For example:

  • Searching gentrif* will find results that include gentrification, gentrifying, and gentrified  

wildcard is a symbol that takes the place of an unknown character or set of characters. Commonly used wildcards are the asterisk ( * ) and the question mark ( ? ). (Look for the database help page if you are unsure what symbols it uses.)

The question mark represents only one unknown character. For example:

  • Searching the word wom?n will have results that include women and woman.

The asterisk can represent more than one character. For example:

  • If you didn't know whether the spelling was color or colour, searching colo*r will search both spellings.

Truncation Example

The Jstor search pictured below is intended to find sources that discuss illustrated editions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderlandillustrat* is used to search for sources that include illustrateillustration, illustrator, illustrating, and illustrated.

This search includes the words "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," the Boolean operator AND, and a truncated version of the word illustration/illustrated.

Wildcard Example

In this International Political Science Abstracts example pictured below, a wildcard is being used because of the difference between the American spelling, labor, and the British spelling, labour. By using the wildcard both versions will be searched.

This search has the words "labor movement" with an asterisk in the word labor between the O and the R. Then there is the Boolean operator AND followed by the words United Kingdom.