Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Using an Asterisk as a Wildcard when Searching

Have you ever had problems when preparing a search trying to think up all the possible variations and endings of a keyword? For example, how do you insert the various endings of "invest," such as invested, investing, investor, investment and investments into your search? By using a wildcard operator (sometimes called truncation), you can do this and more.

A "wildcard" is a search operator that can be appended to the root of a word (e.g., invest*) and substitute for all the possible endings used in conjunction with it. In most search interfaces, including Google and most, but not all, of our research databases, the asterisk (*) serves as the wildcard.

  • "Ab* Lincoln" - will retrieve: Abe Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln.
  • digital and comput* - will retrieve anything containing both digital and anything with the "comput" root, such as: computer, computers, computing, computation, etc.

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