Effective Database Use
Wildcards and truncation
If you are not sure about the exact spelling or if you want various forms of a word, wildcards and truncation are extremely helpful.
Wildcards let you substitute symbols for one or more letters. With wildcards, you can match both the singular and plural forms of a
word, words that begin the same, and words that can be spelled in different ways.
- An asterisk (*) stands for any number of characters, including none, and is especially useful when you want to find all
words that share the same root. For example, crim* matches crime, crimes, criminal, etc.
- A question mark (?) stands for exactly one character and is especially useful when you're uncertain of a
spelling. For example, a search like crim?nal means you can match the word criminal even if, like many of us,
you can't remember spelling. A question mark is also useful for finding certain words with variant spellings. For example,
organi?ation finds both organization (American) and organisation (Australian). Multiple question marks in a row stand for the same
number of characters as there are question marks. For example, organi??? matches either organizes or organized but not organization.
- An exclamation point (!) stands for one or no characters and is especially useful when you want to match the singular and plural
of a word but not other forms. For example, control! matches control and controls but not controlling.
The exclamation point can also be used inside a word to match certain variant spelling.
If you see a message about a search being invalid, check the help feature.
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