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Keyword Searching Tips and Tricks

This guide will help you learn to select effective Keywords and demonstrate Boolean connectors and tips to make searching faster and easier

Wildcards

A wildcard is a symbol that tells the computer to accept any letter in that place. If you are not sure how to spell a term or there are alternate spellings, the wildcard will allow you to retrieve results. The most common symbol for this is a ?, but it can vary from database to database. You can check the help menu to see if wildcards work in any given platform.

examples:

gr?y retrieves gray or grey (alternate spellings)

wom?n retrieves woman or women (irregular plural)

Etc...

Truncation

Truncation literally means "cutting short." It allows you to put in part of a word and retrieve all the forms of the word that start with the characters you have entered. The most common symbol used for truncation is an *, but like the wildcard it may be different in different databases. Unlike the wildcard (which replaces a single letter and can be used in the middle or end of a word), Truncation can allow any number of letters and only works at the end of the word.

Examples:

archit* retrieves architecture or architect

psycho* retireves psychosis, psychotic, etc.

Be careful not to over use truncation; many times if you cut a word too short you will get words that don't actually relate.

example;

consum* retrieves consumer, consumes, consumerism

but

cons* retrieves all those words along with constipation, consult, constituent... etc.