Basic Search

Basic searching in PubMed is straightforward. Enter your keyword term(s) in the search box at the top and click the Search button.

PubMed may suggest topics for you, and if you like any of them you can simply click on one. It's usually a good idea to start with a broad search, then narrow your results.

Please note, PubMed is not like Google! You cannot use full sentences. Use keywords, author names, or journal titles to begin your searching. 

Screenshot of PubMed's website with the search bar.

Advanced Search

An Advanced Search in PubMed allows you to narrow your search and find specific resources. By selecting "Advanced" under the search bar, you are taken to the PubMed Advanced Search BuilderFrom here, you can "add terms to the query box" and search by the specified field you choose. You can search by fields such as (but not limited to): 

Screenshot of PubMed Advanced Search Builder.

Search Techniques

There are many techniques to refine your search in PubMed, including Boolean Operators, truncation, and search filters. 

Boolean Operators are used to connect pieces of information within a search. You can use the operators AND OR and NOT to focus your search results. 

  • AND
    • Used to narrow your search 
    • All terms connected must be present in the results 
    • e.g. virus AND cell death AND influenza
  • OR 
    • Used to broaden your search 
    • Either of the terms must be present in the results 
    • e.g. flu OR influenza 
  • NOT
    • Used to exclude terms in your search 
    • Ignoring terms that may typically be present in your search 
    • e.g. virus NOT influenza 

Truncation in PubMed is used with an asterisk (*). It builds on the asterisked word from the right. 

  • Broadens your search
  • Searches for multiple variants of a word (singular/plural/conjugations etc)
  • e.g. gene*
    • this would search for words such as: gene, genetic, genetically, etc


Often, you may want to find a particular citation in PubMed. There are a couple of quick and easy ways to do this, so that you don't have to go through a formal search.

One way is the PubMed ID (PMID). It is a series of number and appears with each citation. If you have that, simply type (or copy and paste) it into the search box and the citation appears.