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How to Search in the Health Sciences: Truncation

Searching with truncation

To view this video in full screen:

  1. play the video
  2. click on the "cog" icon
  3. select "enter full screen"
  4. to exit full screen hit the escape (ESC) key

Truncation basics

  • Truncation is used with root words to express multiple endings
    • Example: 
      • cold*
      • would find cold, colder, coldest
  • Wildcards are used within words to find words spelled differently but have the same meaning,
    • Example:
      • labo?r
      • would find labor or labour
  • Truncation and wildcards vary from database to database. Check the database Help page to find out what to use in your search.
  • Common truncation/wildcard symbols include: *, #, ?, $, !. You must find what symbol each database uses and how they use that symbol, you may not be getting the results you expect if you don't do this.

Warning: when using truncation make sure to use enough of the root word to express your idea, use too little and you will get bad results.


If you are looking for articles on therapy use 


This finds therapy, therapist, therapeutics...

Don't use


This will find therapy words but also theology, thermal, thespian...


Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library (University of Manitoba) --- ph. 204-789-3342 |