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Fall 2022 Library Service Updates

Database Search Tips: Truncation

What to look for

Truncation, also called stemming, is a technique that broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. Truncation can be useful when looking 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:

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, childs, children, childrens, 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

This guide was adapted from the MIT Libraries Database Search Tips guide with permission under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC license

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