HeinOnline's Tip of the Week: How to Build a Wildcard Search

Last week's Tip of the Week Post focused on proximity searching and finding two words that are within a certain distance from each other. If you missed that post, we recommend you take a quick look at it if you often construct complex searches. This week, we're going to focus on Wildcard Searching. Wildcard Searching allows you to find various formations of a word, such as the plural or past tense of a word. For example, you may want to find references to the Clayton Act and all variations of the term interlock (interlocks, interlocking, interlocked). We have outlined some basic rules below for using wildcards, as well as a few examples.

HeinOnline supports single-character and multiple-character wildcard searches within single terms (not within phrase queries). To perform a single-character wildcard search, use the "?" symbol in place of the single character you wish to replace. To perform a multiple-character wildcard search, use the "*" symbol to look for zero or more characters. You can use wildcard searches at the end or in the middle of a term. You cannot use a "*" or "?" symbol as the first character of a search term. Let's take a look at a few examples.

Single-Character Wildcard Search:

We want to find articles and legislation in the Law Journal Library focused on women’s rights. To ensure we get the best set of results, we want to construct our search to find all formations of the term “woman” (woman, women) in the article title. Open the Advanced Search screen from within the Law Journal Library. Enter the following syntax into the search box:

title: wom?n AND title:rights

Check only the Articles and Legislation section types, and click search.

As you scroll through the results, you will notice that in the first result, the article is titled “Woman’s Super Rights” and the next article is titled “Women’s Rights”. Each title contains a variation of woman/women, which represents the use of the single-character wildcard.

Multiple-Character Wildcard Search:

Now let’s try a multiple-character wildcard search.

We want to find all references to emissions reduction or emission reductions within recent law journal articles relevant to environmental law from 2007-2008. Enter the following syntax into the search box:

text:emission* AND text:reduction* AND title:environment*

To narrow the search to look for articles specific to environmental law, we have added syntax to the search query to look for articles that have the key term “environment” or “environmental” within the Article Title. We did this using a wildcard character, environment*. We also want to see only recent articles, so narrow the years to 2007-2008 and sort the results by Volume Date (Descending) so that we can see the most recent articles first. In this search query, it’s important to remember that wildcard searching will only search within single terms, so our results will include all occurrences of emission* and reduction* (they will not necessarily appear as a phrase).

Our search returns 83 articles from 2007-2008.

Now you try it! Construct a search for the term Clayton Act and all variations of the term interlock. Look for articles, notes, legislation or cases from 2006-2008 in the Law Journal Library.

The syntax for this search is:

text:”Clayton Act” AND text:interlock*

Insert 2006-2008 into the date fields, check articles, notes, legislation and cases from the section types and click search.

This search should return 13 results.

If you want further documentation on all search syntax that is accepted with advanced searching in HeinOnline, view our Advanced Search Syntax Guide.

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