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Library Search for Arts, Design and Architecture Research

a concise guide to searching arts, design and architecture research databases

Using Truncation

When to consider using truncation:

  • Root 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.


About truncation and wildcards


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.


  • 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 #


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

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

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