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Formulating Your Search Strategy: Step 4: Truncation

STEP 4: Truncation

Instead of typing in all the possible variations in spelling or endings of a word, most databases allow you to use truncation symbols, also called wildcards, to represent any letter. The most common trunctation symbols are:

  • * - the asterisk represents zero or more characters and is usually used at the end of a word.
  • ? - the question mark represents one character and can be used at the end or in the middle of a word.

Your list might now look something like the following:

Concept 1 and 2 AND Concept 3 AND Concept 4
(Antony OR
Shakespear* (power OR
politic* OR
rome OR


Using the asterisk at the end of shakespear* will pick up variations such as shakesperean or shakespeare, william. Similarly, politic* will pick up politics, political, politically or politician.