Answered By: Susan Steele
Last Updated: Nov 19, 2019     Views: 42505

The asterisk is a commonly used wildcard symbol that broadens a search by finding words that start with the same letters. Use it with distinctive word stems to retrieve variations of a term with less typing.

In many databases a wildcard is no longer needed to find variations that are formed by simply adding "s" (e.g., teacher often finds either teacher or teachers). The wildcard is very helpful, however, when you want to retrieve more complex variations. In the search shown below, motivat* will find motivate, motivates, motivation, motivational, etc., and child* will find children as well as child.

Check database online help to identify valid wildcards for specific resources. For example:

  • instruct* finds instructinstructsinstructor, etc., in most databases and OneSearch
  • comput! finds compute, computes, computer, computation, etc., in Nexis Uni database
  • wom?n finds woman or women in most databases and OneSearch