LSU Libraries User Instruction
Searching Techniques and Strategies Tutorial


Truncation is a way of using generic characters to "stand in" for letters if you are unsure of spelling or want words with different endings.

Exactly how truncation works depends on the particular database. Some allow truncation in the middle of the word, some only at the end. Some allow truncation at the beginning of the word (allowing you to search for anything that ends in -ide, for example, like chloride or sulfide), but that is rare. Usually, a truncation symbol in the middle of a word can stand in for one or no characters, and one at the end of the word can stand for any number of characters.

Most often, the truncation characters will be an asterisk (*), a question mark (?), or a dollar sign ($) but you'll need to check the help files for the particular database to see which one.

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