Searching for multiple word endings (truncation and wildcards)
Sometimes when you're searching, you want to search for the various endings of a word. This occurs most often when you want to look for the singular and the plural form of the word. It may surprise you to learn that most databases do not do this automatically. If you search for the word "dogs," the computer may not retrieve records which contain the singular "dog."
To help you, some databases designate a wildcard character for use in searching for a set of characters followed by any other characters. This is sometimes also called the truncation character.
Unfortunately each database may have a different wildcard character. You will need to look at the search tips or help files for each database to determine if the database has such a feature and what character is used for this purpose.
For example, the wildcard character on all the EbscoHost databases is the asterisk (*). If you're searching an EbscoHost database and you want to search for all the endings of the word "recruit" you would type the search like this: recruit*
The computer will retrieve any records which contain the words recruit, recruits, recruiting, and recruitment.
It is a good idea to think about the words you might retrieve by using the wildcard character before you enter it as a search term. You want to search for the various endings of the verb "sing" so you type sing*. How many words can you think of which begin with the letters s-i-n-g?
Hopefully you thought of sings, singing, singers.
What about single and singular? And how about singe and singed? And Singapore?
See what I mean? Be careful with the truncation symbol. Sometimes it is best to think of the synonyms you're looking for and combine them with the operator OR to be sure you aren't getting many irrelevant terms, for example:
(sing or singer or sings or singing or singers)
This way the computer will look for any of the variant endings you have listed, but none of the irrelevant words that also begin with the letters s-i-n-g.
In the next section we'll learn about ways to focus your search results with specialized subject headings.