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Database Search Tips: Truncation

Google might be intuitive, but databases require more perseverance. These tips can help you find the needle in the haystack.

What to Look For

  • sunRoot 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.
  • Note: Google automatically gives you the variants based on the root word, but most databases do not.

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.question mark ?
  • 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