Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

PubMed - an Introduction

An introduction to and guide for using PubMed - from basic research queries to in depth, personalized information discovery.

Building a Search

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 when available.
  • 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).

Automatic Term Mapping (ATM):

Keywords searched in PubMed are automatically compared against the controlled vocabulary developed by the National Library of Medicine to describe articles' content and information.

Use Boolean operators (ANDOR, 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

View Results

There are several viewing options for your PubMed results.  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. Can 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 and RefWorks.


Refine your search by filtering out your results. Filter options are located on the lefthand side of the PubMed results page. 

Notice you can refine by article type, language, publication date, and more! To view additional filters select the "Show additional filters option". 

*PubMed attaches the notice "Filters Activated" to all subsequent searches run during this session. 

For more information about saving filters for future research please see the MyNCBI tab in this guide.