IRIS 42: Information and Research Instruction Suite for two-year colleges

Tweeking the Search Statement

Make your words work harder, not you

This search can be better just by using another search trick: truncating. Truncating means using a symbol to replace word endings. With the symbol in place, any letters can be at the end of the word. In most databases the symbol for open, right-handed truncation (which means any number of letters tacked on to the end of the word) is an asterisk (*), or shift+8 on your keyboard.

Here's what happens to the words in the sample search when we apply the truncation symbol:

Example of truncation. The word governmen* can be government, governments. Put an asterisk on promot* to get promote, promotes, promoting, promotes. Put an asterisk at the end of technolog* to get technology, technological, technologies. Put an asterisk on the end of fuel to get fuel or fuels.

You can see from the example that with one single keystroke, the * symbol, you can go from searching a single word to searching many variations of the word.

In any database, look for Search Tips or Help to see what symbols the database uses for truncation. You'll probably find that, in addition to truncating, the database offers other techniques for manipulating words.

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