LSU Libraries User Instruction
Online Catalog Tutorials - Advanced Searching

This is a good time to mention truncation and wildcards.

Truncation is "the abbreviation of words in the commands given to search an online database." Put another way, truncation is using a symbol to stand for a letter or letters in a word.

The truncation symbol can vary with different databases. You should look to the help files to find out what truncation symbols are used. In the LSU Libraries online catalog the $ (dollar sign) is the truncation symbol used to stand for a single character, many characters, or no characters.

In the example on the previous page, if you had used vampire$, the catalog would have returned both items with "vampire" and "vampires," possibly giving you more results.

Another example... A search with genealog$ , will return any word with genealog- as a root, such as genealogy, genealogical, or genealogist.

A wildcard symbol is used to stand for a single missing character in a search term. This is especially useful when looking for different forms of words, or when you aren't sure how to spell them. The ? (question mark) is the wildcard symbol in the LSU Libraries online catalog. For example, wom?n locates records containing either "woman" or "women."

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