Find assistance in developing the search skills necessary to gather information for a range of purposes in health care.

Searching by Field(s)

How do I Search by Field(s)?

Most databases allow you to search specific fields. You can find options to search specific fields in search drop-down menus (set to Title, Abstract, or Journal Title for example) or you can use commands. For example, to search the Title and Abstract fields with a command in PubMed, enter cytology[tiab] in the main search box. All items that have cytology in the Title and/or Abstract field will be retrieved.

Searching specific fields and using commands may help you get to the article you want faster. In PubMed, using fields and commands may help you to balance your search. A comprehensive search involves considering how you should search for an individual concept.

Learn About Searching by Field(s) in Specific Resources

Example PubMed Record with Subject Headings & Common Fields

Common PubMed Fields Explained

Command Field Example
[au] Author Cipriani P[au] 
[ta] Journal  hematology[ta] 
[ti] Publication Title stem cell[ti] AND therapies[ti] AND systemic sclerosis[ti] 
[tiab] Title and Abstract systemic sclerosis[tiab] AND stem cells[tiab] 
[ot] Other Term (Keywords) stem cell transplantation[ot] AND systemic sclerosis[ot] 
[mh] MeSH Term  (Subject Heading) scleroderma, systemic[mh] 
[iud] PMID 25376920[uid] 

Using Commands with Google

Google is a great resource for grey literature when used thoughtfully with operators.

How it Works: Popular Google Operators

Command Example What Happens?
"" "best practice" tracheostomy 

Phrase searching. Searches for words in the order entered.

+ wheelchair +skills Includes specific word(s) in results.
- "primary health care" -"primary care" Excludes specific word(s) in results.
wheelchair * test

Fills in missing word(s).

wheelchair skills test
wheelchair skills program test
wheelchair aptitude test

... cataract surgery $400...$1000

Searches specific number range (years, prices, weights, etc.).

Locates items about cataract surgery prices between $400 and $1000.

allintext:  allintext:guideline tracheostomy

Locates multiple words in body of search results.

intext:  intext:social determinants of health  Locates single word or phrase in body of search results.
allintitle:  allintitle:guideline tracheostomy

Locates words in the title of search results.

intitle: intitle:social determinants of health

Locates single word or phrase in title of search results.

define: define:craniotomy 

Locates a definition for a word or phrase.

filetype: dementia guidelines filetype:pdf

Searches by file types such as pdf, doc, ppt, etc.



Restricts search to a particular website, domain (, top level domain (.edu, .org, .com, .gov, .net, etc.), country (.ca, .uk, etc.).


AROUND Plavix AROUND 3 aspirin  Retrieves results that use the second word aspirin within so many words of the first word (in this example, results that use aspirin within three or fewer words of Plavix).

Tips for Using Operators Effectively:


  • Do not add a space between the command and what you are searching for
    • For example, filetype:pdf NOT filetype: pdf
  • When using the wildcard command, DO add a space before and after *
    • For example, wheelchair * test NOT wheelchair*test

Choice of Operator

  • Do not use a phrase search with the allintext: operator; use intext:
  • Do not use a phrase search with the allintitle: operator; use intitle:
  • allintext: will generally return more results then allintitle:. intext: will return more results than intitle:

File Types

  • View a full list of filetypes returned in a Google search here. Use filetype: with any of the listed extensions (pdf, ppt, doc, etc.)

Combining Operators