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PubMed Searching


Is PubMed right for you? Watch this brief intro video to find out!

Basic Search

PubMed Interactive Video Tutorial

The new PubMed homepage looks different, but still offers the same basic search bar and has the "advanced" option available immediately below the bar. From this page, you can also navigate to helpful pages under the "Learn", "Find", "Download", and "Explore" menu options.

Advanced Search section of the PubMed User Guide. 

When using PubMed's Basic Search, you should:

  • enter search terms into the search box.
    • To find articles by citation, enter the citation elements you have (author, title words, journal, volume, year, etc.) and let PubMed’s citation sensor find the article for you (e.g., neale science 2019).
    • To find articles by author, search the author’s last name and initials (e.g., fagerness j).
    • To find articles by journal, use the complete journal title, ISSN or title abbreviation (e.g., lancet oncol).
  • be specific about what you are looking for
  • add search tags or "ANDs" as needed
  • avoid quotation marks
  • avoid truncation (*)

Information provided by the National Library of Medicine (NLM). This information and more can be found on the NLM New PubMed website.  

New PubMed homepage with search bar and menu options

Searching Features

  • Enhanced synonymy (including plural forms)
    • For example, the new PubMed will include useful synonymy for certain terms, like plural phrases. So "lunch", "lunches", and "lunching" would all be included. 
  • British/American mapping
    • This newer version of PubMed comes with mapping between British and American spellings, so you will not have to include the variant forms in your search.
  • Unlimited truncation
    • The older/legacy version of PubMed only used the first 600 variations of a truncated stem. Now, the new version comes with unlimited truncated (this also means more results).
  • **Due to the above-listed new features, you will get more results on the new PubMed than you will with the same search on the older/legacy version of PubMed. This might be important if your are conducting a systematic or scoping review, or need to keep track of the number of search results.

Want to know more about what PubMed is searching when you input your search terms/phrases?

If you want to know more about what terms and phrases PubMed is searching after you have entered your search terms into the basic search box, you can find out. PubMed searches more than just the words/phrases that you type to make less work for you (automatically searching plural versions, variations in phrasing, etc.). Checking what other words/phrases PubMed is searching can be beneficial if you are not getting the results that you want. Follow the steps below for the way to locate what these other phrases are:

1. Type in your search terms (in this example "de quervain's tenosynovitis treatment")

2. On the results page, click "Advanced" under the search bar.

A screenshot of a search for "de quervain's tenosynovitis treatment" with a box around the word "advanced" below the search bar and an arrow pointing to it.

3. Scroll down to the "History and Search Details" section. Click on the > below the Details heading.

Screen shot of the advanced search page with an arrow pointing to the ">" below the details heading at the bottom of the page under the History and Search Details sections.

4. You should now be able to see the full search that PubMed is running. This will show you all MeSH terms that are being used, as well as synonyms, translations, and British/American term mapping. 

A screenshot of all of the MeSH terms and other terminology that is being included in the "de quervain's tenosynovitis treatment" search


Advanced Search

Advanced Search Builder

1. Add your first search term to the query box

2. Add an additional search term into the "enter a search term" box. Use the dropdown arrow in the blue "Add" box to decide whether you want the first and second search terms to be joined by "AND", "OR", or "NOT".

A screenshot of an advanced search screen with an arrow pointing to the first search term in the query box, another arrow indicating where subsequent search terms are added, and an arrow pointing to the dropdown of option next to the "add" button.

A screenshot of the query box on the advanced search page showing two terms combined with "AND"

3. Continue to add your search terms. The best way to make sure that you have all of your search terms is to write them out beforehand (in PICO-style format if applicable) and then add them to your search.

4. Once you are done adding your search terms, you can click "search" next to the query box to see your results.

A box around the all of the added search terms in the advance search page of PubMed with an arrow next to the "Search" box

See How Many Results You'll Get Using "Add to Search History"

If you are curious to see how many results you'll get with your search: instead of hitting the search button, you can use the dropdown arrow and select "add to history".

A screenshot of the advance search page showing the query box and an arrow pointing to the dropdown on the "search" button where you can select "add to history"

You can then scroll to the History and Search details section. The number written in blue under the Results heading will tell you how many results there are for that search. This may be a good indicator to know whether you need to expand or refine your search without having to leave the search screen.

A screenshot of the advanced search page in PubMed with arrows indicating where to see the number of search results under the "Results" heading in the History and Search Details section

Build Searches from Your Search History

As you create searches and they accumulate in your search history, you can choose to combine them in order to create one big search. You might be doing this if you are trying to refine/expand your search or if you decide its easier to combine smaller searches instead of initially creating one larger search. There are two different ways to combine searches:

1. On the Advanced Search page, scroll down to the History and Search Details box. Click the "..." under the Actions heading of one of the searches that you would like to use. 

Arrow pointing to the three periods under the Actions section of the History and Search Details box on the Advanced Search page.

Select "Add query", which will move the search into the query box.

A box around the "add query" option with an arrow pointing to the phrase.

An arrow showing the search from the history that is now in the query box.

You can continue to add other searches to the query box in the same way, although this time you will be provided with the Boolean operators "AND", "OR", and "NOT" to combine searches. 

A box and bracket showing the options to add another search to the query box with "and", "or", or "not".

You can now run your new search through PubMed or add it to your history. As with the example provided, you can see that combining searches provided a much smaller number of results than either of the two searches individually. Depending on your searches and the Boolean operator that you use to connect them, the number of results may be much larger or smaller.

An arrow pointing to the new number of search results when two searches are combined using "and"


2. The other option to combine searches is to type the search numbers into the query box. Search numbers can be found under the Search heading in the History and Search Details section. Use Boolean operators to combine the search numbers in the query box.  

A box around the search column in the History and search details box. Also, the phrase "#1 and #2" has been typed in the query box. An arrow points to the "and".

You can run the search through PubMed or add it to your search history. In the image below, you can see that both methods will bring about the same results. 

A box around two searches in the History and Search Details section. It shows that the two methods of combining searches provide the same number of search results (just two different ways of getting the same results).

More information about Advance Search options can be found on the Advance Search section of the PubMed User Guide. 

Results Page

  1. Results by Year
    • Displays the number of records by date of publication. You can use the slider along the bottom to limit the range of years.
  2. Save, Email, and Send to
    • Different methods to deliver results to other locations (email, file, etc.)
  3. Best Match by default
    • The default method of displaying results is by best match. Records that are deemed to be the most relevant to your search will be available at the top.
  4. Abstract snippets with highlights
    • You can view the parts of the abstract where your search terms/mapped terms appear on the results screen
  5. Filters
  6. Advanced search
    • The link to the advanced search option is available under the search box at the top of the page. More information about the updated Advanced Search interface can be found on PubMed's Help website.
  7. Create alert
    • You can create alerts by clicking the link underneath the search bar at the top of the page.
  8. Cite and Share
    • The cite and share buttons are available under the abstract snippet on the results page as well as on the abstract screen (see below for more about the abstract screen).

PubMed results page for a sample search of "de Quervain's tenosynovitis treatment" with numbers corresponding to those in the listed text above

Information can be found on the NLM New PubMed website, where there is also a video available to walk through this information. 

Using Search Filters

On the results page of a search in PubMed, the left side bar will have filters that you can apply, which will help to narrow your search results, and hopefully get you closer to what you are looking for. 

A box around the filters in the left sidebar on the results page

You can filter results based on publication date, article type, and text availability. If you want to filter by more than that, you can select the "additional filters" option at the bottom of the sidebar. 

An arrow pointing to the "additional filters" button at the bottom of the list of filters on the left side of the page.

Make your selections for which filters you would like to apply to your search. You can 1. pick the broader category of filter that you would like (article type, age, etc.), 2. check off what specific filters you would like to apply, and 3. click "show" to see those filters appear on your search screen.

Shows the additional filters screen with arrows pointing to the broader categories on the left side and to the show button.

You should now see your additional filters appear on the left side of the screen, beneath the filters that were already there.

arrows pointing to new filters on the bottom left column on the screen

As you apply filters, you should be able to see that the filters applied appear at the top of your search screen with a yellow highlight around them. Please know that when filters within the same category are applied (i.e. when multiple boxes are checked under one heading), PubMed is searching them using "OR" so you will have more results with more boxes checked in one category. 

A box around the filters applied at the top of the search page

You can select "clear all" if you want to remove all filters. If you are looking to remove just a few filters, you can simply un-check them in the left sidebar. 

arrows pointing to where you can clear filters or un-check boxes

Abstract Screen

  • Previous and Next
    • You are now able to page through PubMed results from the abstract screen. If you hover your clicker over the previous or next result arrow (on the far left and far right of the screen, respectively), you will be able to see a pop-up of an excerpt for that result.


The abstract page of PubMed with circles showing how to get to the previous and next results

  • MeSH terms, Publication Types, etc.
    • Search integration is availble for MeSH terms, publication types, and other terms that appear blue with an arrow on the right side for an article on the abstract screen. You can click on these to view a drop down menu where there are options to add to you search, search MeSH, and search PubMed.

An example of Publication types, MeSH terms, and other terms in blue with the dropdown menu showing options to search in PubMed, in MeSH, and to add to search.

Using MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) in PubMed

When searching for MeSH terms, you will be redirected to the legacy/old PubMed interface to search for these terms. After you have added terms to the search builder and select "search PubMed", you will be brought back to the new PubMed.

An arrow indicating where on the home page of PubMed to find the MeSH database link.

Interested in a text tutorial? Click the PDF link below:

PubMed on Mobile

The full functionality of PubMed is now available on mobile devices. The new PubMed interface and website has been created not only to enhance searching and looking through records, but has also been optimized for use on mobile devices. Full text access is available on a mobile device. 

Guides and Other Resources for the New PubMed