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Tutorial for FMSC 487 -- Legal Aspects of Family Problems

A Shortcut: Truncation Symbols

You may wish to use what is called a "truncation symbol." This device merely offers a shortcut that enables you to skip having to type each different form of a word.  Pacing an exclamation point after a word or part of a word enables you to search any word that has that word or word part as a stem. 

Thus by writing procreat! you can simultaneously search for the words procreate OR procreation OR procreating. Similarly, rather than use the words  annul OR annulment OR annulled, you could achieve the same result merely by typing annul!  Likewise, you may wish to use refus refus! OR avoid!. You could have written all of the individual search words--including the "OR" in between each of them--but using truncation symbols is an easier, quicker way to do it.

Example: 
You can use:
procreat!
AND
annul!
AND refus! OR avoid!

Instead of:
(procreation OR procreate OR procreating)
AND
(annul OR annuls or annulled or annulment or annulments or annuling)
AND
(refuse OR refusal OR refusing OR refused OR refuses OR avoid OR avoidance OR avoiding OR avoided OR avoids

(Important note:  In most databases a truncation symbol is designated by an asterisk: *, but legal searches in Westlaw Campus Research or Lexis Nexis Academic use an exclamation point instead.)