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Plurals, truncation, wildcards, and proximity

Plurals

To search for a word and its plural form, add a plus sign + to the singular form. The plus + will search for any plural formed with either -s or -es. For example, giraffe+ retrieves all records that contain giraffe and giraffes.

To search for the plural of words that change form, such as mouse or story, search for both forms and combine them with the Boolean operator OR. For example, to retrieve mouse and its plural, search for mouse OR mice.

If you type: firstsearch searches for:
mammal+ records containing mammal and/or its plural, mammals
wax+ records containing wax and/or its plural, waxes
leaf OR leaves records containing leaf and/or its plural, leaves

Truncation

Truncation allows you to search for a term and its variations by entering a minimum of the first three letters of the term followed by an asterisk *. For example, securit* retrieves records that contain security, securities, securitization, etc.

 Note: Truncation can only be used after the third character. Also, truncation is currently set to read a limit of 50 index entries; this limit was devised to achieve better performance by the FirstSearch system and will result in an error message if the user enters a truncation query that is too general.

If you type: firstsearch searches for:
instruction* records containing instruction, instructions, and instructional
dogg* records containing doggie, doggy, dogges, doggerel, doggett, and d'oggi

Wildcards

Wildcards are used to represent from zero to nine additional characters in a search term. They are useful when you are unsure of spelling, when there are alternate spellings, or when you only know part of a term. FirstSearch recognizes two wildcards.

A pound sign # represents a single character.

A question mark ?, alone or with a number, represents from zero to nine additional characters. Include a number if you know the maximum number of characters the wildcard will replace. Otherwise, use the question mark ? alone to represent any number of characters within a single term, including no additional characters.

 Note: Wildcards can only be used after the third character of a term.

If you type: firstsearch searches for:
wom#n records containing woman and women
colo?r records containing color, colour, colonizer, and colorimeter
colo?1r records containing color, colour, but not colonizer or colorimeter

Adjacent terms (proximity)

To find terms within a certain distance of other terms, use the proximity operators w or n followed by a number. You can string together multiple terms and proximity operators, such as curator n2 art w3 forgery, and you can use phrases with a proximity operator, such as space shuttle n4 orbit.

W (with)

Type w or with between two terms to search for records containing both terms, in the order typed, with no words between them. Type w and a number (1-25) between two terms to search for records containing both terms, in the order typed, with no more than that number of other words between them.

if you type: firstsearch searches for:
aluminum w wiring records containing first aluminum and then wiring with no other words between them
aluminum w2 wiring records containing first aluminum and then wiring with no more than two other words between them

N (near)

Type n or near between two terms to search for records containing both terms, in any order, with no words between them. Type n and a number (1-25) between two terms to search for records containing both terms, in any order, with no more than that number of other words between them.

if you type: firstsearch searches for:
overview n 1998 records containing overview and 1998 with either word appearing first and with no other words between them
chicken n3 egg records containing chicken and egg with either word appearing first and with no more than three other words between them

Searching phrases

To search for an exact phrase that includes either with or near in any position other than the first word, such as byzantine near east or life with father, enclose the entire phrase in quotes.

if you type: firstsearch searches for: results:
near east the words near and east 8900
"near east" the exact phrase "near east" 6700
byzantine near east the word byzantine directly before or after the word east 15
byzantine "near" east the words byzantine, near, and east 40
"byzantine near east" the exact phrase "byzantine near east" 4

 

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