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PubMed at the UW

Step-by-Step Instructions

Basic Search Watch Video

See updates for New PubMed searches here.

Step 1: Enter Your Terms

Type any key word or phrase into the Search box. Use an asterisk (*) to retrieve variations on a word, e.g., bacter* retrieves bacteria, bacterium, bacteriophage, etc.

  • For a Subject Search: Enter one or more words (e.g., asthma drug therapy) in the Search box and click on Search. PubMed automatically "ANDs" (combines) terms together so that all terms or concepts are present, and it translates your words into MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) terms.
  • For an Author Search: Enter the author's name in the format of last name first followed by initials (e.g., byrnes ca) in either the Search box or search by author on the Advanced Search Builder page.
  • For a Journal Search: To retrieve articles from a specific journal, use Journals in NCBI Databases or Single Citation Matcher features (available on the PubMed homepage).

Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) to combine topics in the Search box. Boolean operators should be entered in UPPERCASE and are processed from left to right. Change the order by using parentheses.

Example: osteoporosis AND (drug therapy OR exercise). If desired combine concepts using the Search Builder feature on the Advanced Search page.

Step 2: Click on the Search Button to Run Your Search

Step 3: Set Your Filters Watch Video

Use the sidebar filters to restrict your results by language, article type, date, or subset of PubMed, e.g., nursing journals, cancer or bioethics. See the Refine Searches page for more details on each filter.

  • To add additional filter categories to the sidebar, click the “Choose additional filters” link, select the additional categories, and then click apply.

  • When filters are selected a Filters activated message will display on the results page.

  • Note: Filters 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."

legacy pubmed filtersLegacy PubMed Filters Clear All

  • To turn off filters, click either the “Clear all” link to remove all the filters, the “clear” link next to a filter category to clear the selections within that category, or the individual filter.

Step 4: View Your Results 

Sample Results image

At the top of your results list you see the Limits Activated for your search and Filter Your Results which delineates UW Online results, indicating the number of articles available electronically through the UW Libraries. Click on the link to move to that set. The Manage Filters link takes you to My NCBI, your personal space in PubMed where you can configure your results filters.

PubMed citations are displayed in Summary format, 20 at a time, "last in, first out", 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 Settings link.

  • Summary format - Short bibliographic citation.
  • Abstract format - Bibliographic citation plus abstract of the article and the first 5 Related Articles. Use also for links to full text.
  • MEDLINE format - Full citation tagged with field labels. Use for importing into citation managers 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. Click on the Display Settings link to increase the number of citations per page (up to 200) or sort the order of the citations displayed, e.g., by journal title instead of date.

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

 full text linksSend To Menu - Citations and email for pubmed

Links to Full text Documents: Display references (either all of them or the marked citations) in Abstract format. Click the Check for Full Text button to see if the journal is owned by UW Libraries. (You can also go to the eJournals tab on the HSL home page). NOTE: If the UW does not own the journal, you can follow the link under Get a Copy for obtaining the article at no charge if you are a current UW faculty, staff or student. For more information, see the Find Full Text page.

Save: From the Send To link, select File, choose Format and Sort order, and click the Create File button. When prompted by the operating system, provide a name and appropriate extension for your file.  Video below

E-mail: From the Send To link, select E-mail, choose Format, Sort order, add email and additional information, and click the E-mail button. Video below.

Save & Email Watch Video


Citation Manager: To send citations to EndNote, Mendeley, etc. select Citation Manager under Send to. For more information see the Export to Citation Managers tab.

Clipboard: The Clipboard acts as a temporary holding file for all citations collected during your online session. Use the Send to link to save to Clipboard. Click on the Clipboard link on the right side of the Results page to retrieve all citations on your Clipboard. Results on the Clipboard will be lost after 8 hours of inactivity.  Watch Video

Collection: To save citations for longer than 8 hours, use the Send to link to create a collection that can be added to and referred to indefinitely.

Step 6: Document Your Strategy Watch Video

Go to the History section on the Advanced Search screen. Either print the screen(s) using your browser or to avoid copying the entire Advanced Search screen, copy and paste the Search History into a document for future reference.

Video Demonstration

11-minute video demonstration of the Basics of Searching in PubMed, part of a 6-part video series, by Julie Nanavati of Johns Hopkins Welch Medical Library.