Skip to main content

Libguide, SELU Sims memorial library

Ask a Librarian
Hours

LS 102 Course Materials

Introduction to Information Research

Truncation and Wildcards

Computer databases are very literal. Every keyword that is entered into a search must appear exactly as typed. Of course, sometimes words have different spellings, and there are different forms of the word, such as singular and plural forms and different suffixes. If you choose the wrong tense of a verb or the variant spelling of a keyword, you could miss relevant records.

One way to ensure retrieving all variations of a word is to use truncation or wildcards. Most databases have symbols that can be used to truncate or add wildcards to keyword searches. The symbol used by the databases may vary, therefore you will need to check the Help screens to determine which symbols are used. Common truncation/wildcard symbols are: *, ?, #, $, + and !.

Here's an example of truncation using the asterisk ( * ).

Religio* retrieves

  • RELIGION
  • RELIGIONS
  • RELIGIONIST
  • RELIGIONIZE
  • RELIGIOSITY
  • RELIGIOUS
  • RELIGIOUSLY

Here's an example of a wildcard using the asterisk.

Wom*n retrieves

  • WOMAN
  • WOMEN