Ovid MEDLINE: Advanced


Searching by Subject

If you know the MeSH heading for the topic you want to search, you can bypass the menu-driven method and type your search in the text box. The results of this search statement will be immediately posted as a set.

For example: exp *myocardial infarction/et

In the example above, the exp indicates that the MeSH term "myocardial infarction" should be exploded to include all narrower headings; the asterisk * restricts the retrieval to articles in which myocardial infarction is considered a major focus of the article; and the /et restricts to the subheading "etiology." You can apply as many subheadings as you want by entering their two-letter codes after the forward slash, separated by commas. To include all subheadings, use just the forward slash followed by nothing. Remember: you must use an established MeSH term and it must be followed by a forward slash. If you fail to use MeSH terms, your retrieval will be zero - a misleading result.

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Searching Other Fields

In general, you can execute any type of search from the main search box. Simply type the search statement, as it would have appeared, had you done your search using the menu-driven method.

Specific fields, other than the subject field, may also be searched directly from the main search screen. Using the appropriate two-letter field identifier, set off by periods, allows for searching in any field. You can search multiple fields at the same time.

For example: heart attack.ti,ab. 

Here are some of the more common and useful fields to search and their corresponding two-letter codes: 

Label/Field Name Example
 AU Author  barboza ps.au.
AX Author Last Name  lloyd-jones.ax.
 TI Title  heart attack.ti.
 AB Abstract  hernia.ab.
 TW Textword  diabetes.tw.
 LG Language  eng.lg.
 JN Journal  jama.jn.
 JW Journal Word  physiology.jw.
 YR Year of Publication  2006.yr.
 IN Institution  (northwestern or feinberg).in.
 VO Volume  174.vo.
 PG Page  1154.pg. (beginning page # only)
 PT Publication Type  bibliography.pt. or consensus$.pt.
 GS Gene Symbol  agr3.gs. or agrdown$.gs.
 NO Grant Numbers  1a132535.no.
 UI Unique Identifier  86546535.ui.

See the MEDLINE Database Guide for a complete list of all searchable fields.

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The "adj" command allows searching by title or textword for terms that apear NEAR each other. The examples below would retrieve titles in which the word cancer is found within five words of the word history in the title of the article (cancer might appear before or after history).

cancer.ti. adj5 history.ti

(cancer adj5 history).ti.

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Combining Sets or Terms

Combine sets using AND, OR, NOT and parentheses.

To combine sets: (1 or 2) and (3 or 4)

To combine with a search statement: 4 and cancer.ti.

To combine search statements: smith t$.au. and cardiac.ti.

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Truncation Symbols

$, # and ? are truncation symbols, or "wildcards," that allow you to include various forms of a word in your search. Not all fields support truncation. Truncation can be used with textword searching or with field specification to the title or the author. You can never use truncation when searching by MeSH subject headings. The proper usages of the truncation symbols are:

 Use To Replace


a single character (wom#n.tw. yields women or woman)


0 or 1 character (tumo?r?.ti. yields tumor, tumors, tumour, tumours)


any number of characters (immun$.ti. yields immunity, immunological, etc.)


any number up to n (immun$5.ti. yields immunities not immunological)
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Limiting Sets

You can also limit sets from the main search box instead of using the LIMIT feature from the menu. In the examples below, the number two represents the search statement number on which the limit is performed. (Note: The character after the period is a lower case L, not the number 1.)

 Limit Name Syntax
Abstracts ..l/2 ab=y or limit 2 to abstracts
Human ..l/2 hu=y or limit 2 to human
English Language ..l/2 en=y or limit 2 to english
Review limit 2 to review
Language ..l/2 lg=fre or limit 2 to french
Latest Update limit 2 to latest
Animal limit 2 to animal
Male limit 2 to male
Female limit 2 to female
Age Groups limit 2 to infant
Publication Year ..l/2 yr=92 or limit 2 to yr=1992
 Local Holdings limit 2 to local holdings


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Updated: May 26th, 2017 10:18