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Using Truncation

Truncation allows simultaneous searches for variant forms of search terms. This technique is also called stemming because a word's "stem or root" forms the basis of search terms.

A truncation symbol is added to the end of a word's stem (e.g. manag*), which lets us search for other forms of the word (e.g. managers, management, managing) without having to type them all and connect them with the OR Boolean operator.

Truncation broadens searches,increases search results, and locates items that might be missed. For example, if we searched for "high-stakes tests," we might miss articles that only used the term "high-stakes testing." Truncating the search term to "high-stake test*" would locate items containing both terms.

The truncation symbol in most online search tools is the asterisk (*). Some search tools, however, use other punctuation symbols for truncation. For example, we would use the dollar sign ($) to create truncation searches in the library catalog. Also, some search tools do not support truncation.

Reading the search help files in online search tools will tell us which symbols to use for truncation and other search strategies. Watch a brief truncation search demonstration created by Honnold/Mudd Library.