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When to Use Truncation

Look for:

  • Words that can have multiple endings on a common stem.  Example: educat can end various ways: educate, education, educating, educated
  • Words that are spelled differently, but mean the same thing.  Example:  color, colour
  • Truncation/wildcard symbols substitute for the characters that vary in the word.   Databases may use different symbols for truncation; check the help screens to find out which symbols are used.

How to Use Truncation


  • Truncation can also be called stemming
  • It broadens your search by including various word endings and spellings.
  • 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:
    • violen* = violent, violence
    • child* = child, childs, children, childrens, childhood
    • student* = student, students (don't assume the database looks for both singular and plural unless you ask it to)
  • Truncation symbols may vary by database; common symbols include: *, !, ?, or #


  • Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word.
  • It can occur in the middle, as well as at the end of the 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
    • theat?? = theater, theatre

If you have questions about applying this technique to your search, Ask Us!