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Why use it?

Truncation works in many search tools and can be useful if you want broaden or expand your search.  Truncation finds plurals and alternate spellings of root words.

How it works:

Example: Let's say you are trying to find information on nursing leadership.  Rather than typing out all the variations of the word nurse and all the variations of the word leadership:

(nurse OR nurses OR nursing) AND (leadership OR leaders OR leading)

With truncation, you can insert a symbol at the root of your word which will find the same results:

nurs* AND lead*

The * searches for:

nurse leads
nurses leaders
nursing leading

Truncation symbols can vary, but the most common one is an asterisk *(Shift + 8) on your keyboard.

Place the truncation symbol at the end of a root word (example: environtment*) and the database will retrieve the root word plus all variant endings and plurals.

Variations: *, ?, $, !, #

Refer to the help guide of the search tool you are using to determine which truncation symbol to use.


As the tutorial below points out, avoid using truncation with short words, like cat*.  While you will find all there is to know about cats, you will also end up with many irrelevant results for catapaults, catatonic, catastrophes, etc.

For more examples of using truncation, see the following animated tutorial created by Colorado State University Libraries: