Searching: Wildcards

Learn some useful search techniques, improve your search results and confidently undertake research using the Library Search or databases.

When thinking about keywords, you may come across some which could have variations on the ending of that word, or certain words that are spelt differently depending on the region or dialect. (i.e. US English and UK English)

You can use wildcards symbols to replace word endings, or letters within a word. The search will return all results containing the alternative words.

Wildcards and truncations

In BCU Library Search, wildcards are an asterisk (*) and a question mark (?).

Truncate a word with an asterisk to search for all words that start with the letters before the asterisk.
Replace a letter within a word with a wildcard (?) to search for all possible variations of this letter.

You can use one wildcard or truncation per word.


The table below contains some examples of truncations and their corresponding equivalents:

Truncation Corresponding terms
anxiet* anxiety, anxieties, anxietude
theat* theatre, theatric, theatrical, theatrically, theatricalise, theatricalisation, theatricalism, theatrum, theatre-restaurant ... 
tire* tire, tired, tiredness, tiredly, tireless, tirelessly, tirelessness, tiresome, tiresomeness ...
colo?r colour, color
*col?r colour, color, Technicolor, unicolor, Kinemacolor, discolor, protocolar, tubicolar, caracoler, hymenicolar, incoler, papicolar, plebicolar.
democrati?e democratise, democratize