Library:Truncation and Wildcard Symbols

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SOURCE TRUNCATION WILDCARD PHRASE PROXIMITY Other
Notes
Stands in for 0 or 1 characters Stands in for 0 or more characters Stands in for exactly 1 character
OVID databases:
*   or  $   or  :

Example:
disease$




Note: [i]
?

Example:
flavo?r





Note: [ii]
#

Example:
wom#n





Note: [iii]
  • No quotation marks needed for phrase searching
  • Stop words will be removed
adj/n
(where "n" is a number)

Example:
natural adj5 childbirth


Note: [iv]
 
PubMed
*

Note: [v]
xxx
Phrase searching prevents subject mapping
   

PROQUEST databases:


*





Note: [vi]
*






?





Note: [vii]
xxx





NEAR/n
or
N/n

(where "n" is a number)

Note: [viii]
PRE/n
or
P/n




'Note: [ix]

EBSCOHOST databases:

*













#












Note: [x]
*













?












Note: [xi]
xxx













N/n
or
W/n

(where "n" is a number)







Note: [xii]
 

Engineering Village

*
Automatic Stemming

Note: [xiii]
*




?




xxx
or
{xxx}


NEAR/n
or
ONEAR/n

Note: [xiv]
Proximity searching does not work with: truncation, wildcards, parentheses, quotation marks, or braces.

Web of Science Core Collection

*




Note: [xv]
$




Note: [xvi]
*
?
xxx
NEAR/n
(where "n" is a number)
When the word "near" appears in the title of a source item such as the title of a journal, book, or proceeding - enclose in parentheses (near)
PEDro Automatic stemming.

Use truncation character * only at the beginning of a word

Note: [xvii]
@
xxx
 
CAB Direct
*

or
Automatic Stemming

Use quotation marks "XXX" to turn off Auto-stemming
*
?
xxx
near/n
 
UBC Library Catalogue
?
xxx
   
UBC Library - Summon Search
*
 
*
?
xxx
  Wildcards cannot be used as the first character in a search
Google/Google Scholar        
xxx
 
Notes: [xviii]


NOTES AND EXPLANATIONS

Ovid databases

[i] In OVID databases, you must turn off Subject mapping for truncation to work. You may add a number after your truncation symbol (i.e., *5) to restrict the search to a certain number of characters. For instance, the search: fish*4 would find fish, fishes, fishing, etc., but would not find longer results, such as “fisheries”.

[ii] In OVID databases, use the ? wildcard symbol to find variations of spelling for the term. The ? symbol is used inside or at the end of the search word. For instance colo?r would find all results for "color", and all results for "colour". And bird? Would find results for "bird" and "birds".

[iii] In OVID databases, use the # wildcard symbol to find variant spellings of a word. It can be placed inside or at the end of a search word. The # symbol must replace exactly one character (i.e., wom#n). So if you searched for: colo#r it would only find results for “colour”, but not color.

[iv] In OVID databases, you may broaden or narrow your search by using the proximity searching operator Adj with a number 1-99. e.g. adj3 searches for terms within 3 words of each other in any order. ADJ without a number finds terms next to each other in specified order. http://site.ovid.com/site/help/documentation/osp/en/Content/syntax.htm#operators

PubMed

[v] In PubMed using the * truncation symbol will prevent subject mapping of your search term. It will find the first 600 possible results and then stop searching. It will also cause a keyword search to search as a phrase (i.e., the keyword search: fetus infection* will search for "fetus infection" as a phrase, instead of truncating the term "infection" on its own).

PROQUEST databases

[vi] In PROQUEST databases, you may add a number after your truncation symbol (i.e., *5) to restrict the search to a certain number of characters. For instance, the search: fish*4 would find fish, fishes, fishing, etc., but would not find longer results, such as "fisheries".

[vii] In PROQUEST databases, use the ? wildcard symbol to replace any single character, either inside or at the end of the search word. Multiple wildcards can be used to represent multiple characters. For example: nurse? would find: nurses, nursed, but not nurse; sm?th would find: smith and smyth; ad??? would find: added, adult, adopt.

[viii] In PROQUEST databases, use NEAR/n or N/n to look for documents that contain two search terms, in any order, within "n" specified number of words apart. Replace "n" with a number. For example: nursing NEAR/3 education; media N/3 women.

[ix] Use PRE or P to search for a term within specified number of words before a second term. Eg: nursing PRE/4 education

EBSCOHOST databases

[x] Use # for alternate spellings. For example, colo#r finds – color/colour.

[xi] In EBSCOHOST databases, use the ? wildcard to find an unknown character. For example, type ne?t to find all citations containing neat, nest or next. EBSCOhost does not find net because the wildcard replaces a single character.

[xii] In EBSCOHOST databases The N5 proximity search finds the words if they are within five words of one another regardless of the order in which they appear. The W5 proximity search finds the words if they are within five words of one another and in the order in which you entered them.

Engineering Village

[xiii] In Engineering Village, Inspec database, search term stemming is automatic. Using truncation or wildcard characters automatically turns the “auto-truncation” off. You may also turn it off by selecting “auto-stemming>off”. To turn truncation off when not using a truncation or wild card character, put search terms in between quotation marks or braces {} – note that truncation characters and wildcards will not work within quotation marks or braces. You may use the * truncation character at the beginning or end of a search term. In addition, if you precede a word with the stemming character $, you can pick up all forms of the word.
Ex: $management , picks up manager, managed, etc.

[xiv] ONEAR finds words in proximity to one another, in exact order entered.

Web of Science

[xv] In Web of Science databases you can use truncation in Title or Topic searches. You must enter at least three characters before and after a wildcard when using either left-hand truncation or right-hand truncation.

[xvi] The asterisk (*) represents any group of characters, including no character.The question mark (?) represents any single character.The dollar sign ($) represents zero or one character.

PEDro

[xvii]

  • In PEDro, truncation at the end of a word is automatic.
  • If you would like to truncate the beginning of the word - for example, if you wanted to find papers on edema, oedema, lymphedema or lymphoedema, type *edema in a text field. Note, that if you put an asterisk * at the beginning of a word, PEDro will not also find variants at the end of the word (that is, PEDro can’t simultaneously search for variants at the beginning and end of the same word).

Google/Google Scholar

[xviii]

In Google, there are some additional wild cards you can use:

  1. Search for specific types of files, such as PDFs, PPTs, or XLS, by adding filetype: and the 3-letter file abbreviation.
  2. Add a tilde sign (~) immediately in front of a word to search for that word as well as even more synonyms.
  3. Use the related: operator to find pages that have similar content by typing related: followed by the website address. For instance, if you find a website you like, try using related:[insert URL] to locate similar websites.
  4. If you want to search for pages that may have just one of several words, include OR (capitalized) between the words. Without the OR, your results would typically show only pages that match both terms. You can also use the | symbol between words for the same effect.
  5. Include site: to search for information within a single website like all mentions of "Olympics" on the New York Times website. [ Olympics site:nytimes.com ]
    Tip: Also search within a specific top-level domain like .org or .edu or country top-level domain like .de or .jp.
  6. Add a dash (-) before a word to exclude all results that include that word. This is especially useful for synonyms like Jaguar the car brand and jaguar the animal.[ jaguar speed -car ].


Information in this guide is based on database and search engine help pages.

File:Library Truncation and wildcards handout 2013.pdf



Credits: [1]

  1. Beck, Charlotte and Longley, Kate, UBC Library. 2012 [online]. Truncation and Wildcard Symbols. Available from http://wiki.ubc.ca/Library:Truncation_and_Wildcard_Symbols [accessed on 4 September 2012]. This work Truncation and Wildcard Symbols, by Charlotte Beck and Kate Longley, identified by UBC Library, is free of known copyright restrictions.

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