Research skills

Search strategies

Truncation and wildcards

Here are a couple of hints that will help you improve your searches and save you time!


You can truncate a word using a truncation symbol – often an asterisk * or exclamation mark !. This will find all different endings of a word and saves you having to type in plurals, words ending in ‘ing’ and so on.

Comput* will find compute, computer, computing, computed, computerised...

Manage! will find manage, manager, managed, manageable...

Be careful you don’t use truncation too early though:

Comp* will find computer, computing etc but will also find competition, comprehensive, complicated and many more!


You can also search for different letters within a word to take account of different spellings - the symbol is often ! or ?.

Wom?n will find woman and women;

Colo!r will find color and colour.


Many electronic resources give you guidance on which wildcard symbol to use.

Have a look at the Help links or Search tips provided by each resource for more information.

Try the keywords quiz to test your knowledge (see below).