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PubMed How-To Guide

PubMed/ Medline

PubMed Guide

  • Use the USD PubMed link from the University Libraries Research Gateway to find full-text provided by the University Libraries.
  • More PubMed tutorials & videos from the National Library of Medicine
  • PubMed provides access to bibliographic citations to biomedical journal articles, which include MEDLINE back to the late 1940's and to additional life sciences journals. It is updated daily.


Basic Search Techniques

Step 1: Enter Your Search Terms

Type any key word or phrase into the search box as shown in the image. Use an asterisk (*) to retrieve variations on a word, e.g.,bacter* retrieves bacteriabacteriumbacteriophage, etc.

For a Subject Search: Enter one or more words (e.g., asthma drug therapy) in the query box and click on GO. PubMed automatically "ANDs" (combines) terms together so that all terms or concepts are present, and it translates your words into MeSH terms.

For an Author Search: Enter the author's name in the format of last name first followed by initials (e.g., byrnes ca).

For a Journal Search: To retrieve articles form a specific journal use PubMed's Single Citation Matcher found below PubMed Tools in the center of the main search page or Journals in NCBI Databases found below More Resources on the the right hand side of the main page.

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to combine topics in the search box if desired. Note: Boolean operators should be entered in UPPPERCASE and are processed from left to right. Change the order by using parentheses.

Step 2: Set Your Limits

Click on "Limits" as shown in the image. Choose the restrictions for your search, e.g. a specific language, article type, date, or subset of PubMed, e.g. nursing journals, cancer or bioethics.

Note: Limits remain in place until you change or remove them. Limits other than language or date will exclude NEW records that are "in process" or "supplied by Publisher."

Step 3: Click on the Search Button to Run Your Search

Step 4: View Your Results

Three results filters are displayed on the right hand side of the page: the 'All' filter tells you the total number of citations retrieved; the Review filter indicates the number of articles which are labeled as reviews; the Free Full Text filter indicates the number of articles that are freely available in full text. Click on the link to move to that set.

PubMed citations are displayed in "Summary" format, 20 at a time, recently added, except results that retrieve a single citation which will display the Abstract view. You can change the display for all or selected citations by selecting a new display format from the Display pull-down menu.

Summary Format: Short bibliographic citation

Abstract Format: Bibliographic citation plus abstract of the article. Use also for links to full-text.

MEDLINE Format: Full citation tagged with field labels. Use for importing into bibliographic citation programs such as EndNote.

After displaying your search results, view single records by clicking on the title of the article or mark a set of references by clicking on the boxes to the left of each citation. To increase the number of citations per page (up to 200) and to change the order of the citations displayed, e.g. by journal title instead of date, use the Display Settings pull-down menu. 

Use the Send To pull-down menu to place citations on the clipboard, if desired, for later review. Otherwise, follow the steps below to see full text, print, save, or email your list or order articles.

Step 5: Connect to Fulltext, Print, Save, or Email Your Citation List or Order Articles

Links to Full Text Documents: Display references (either all of them or the marked citations) in Abstract format. If the U Get It! button appears (see above picture), click on it. It will lead you to the full text of the article. Some other online database services also link directly to the free full text of the article, such as SpringerLink or Wiley InterScience.

Save: Select the references you want to save by checking the boxes to the left of the citations. Place all your references on one web page by changing the Items Per Page number in the Display Settings pull-down menu. Select File from the Send To pull-down menu, choose the desired format and the order in which to sort the references and click on the Create File button. When prompted by the operating system, provide a name and appropriate extension for your file.

Email: Select E-mail from the Send To pull-down menu, select or fill in the options for format and the order in which to sort the reference, email address, and any additional text you want to add. Click the E-Mail button.

Refining or Improving Your Search

Related Articles
To the right of the retrieved citations you will see 'Find Related Data.' In the Database drop down menu, select the database you want to search. An Option drop down menu will appear, select Related Citations. These citations are displayed by relevancy and may be reviewed and added to the clipboard, saved or printed.

Acts as a temporary holding file for all citations collected during your online session. You may review, print, or save from here instead of the display if you wish.

Holds your search strategies and results from your current search session. Click Advanced Search to access your search history. You may combine previous searches or add additional terms to an existing search by using the pound sign (#) before the search number, e.g., #2 AND #6 or #3 AND drug therapy in the search box.

Single Citation Matcher
Lets you fill in known pieces of information about a specific reference in order to retrieve the full citation.

Clinical Queries Search
Uses filters to limit retrieval to systematic reviews or research-based citiations on clinical topics.

MeSH Database
Allows you to select specific subject headings and subheadings to focus your search.

Provides a space to save and update up to 100 searches.

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