About PubMed

PubMed is the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) premier search system for health information, including MEDLINE. MEDLINE is a database of over 23 million biomedical citations from nearly 5,000 journals that date back to 1950. MEDLINE is indexed by information specialists using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), the NLM’s controlled vocabulary, which provides a consistent method for retrieving information. 

Tips and Hints for Searching PubMed

When searching:

  • Access PubMed via the link on the Library’s homepage
  • Click the “Details” tab to determine exactly what is being searched.
  • Use the Clipboard to temporarily (8 hrs) save citations from multiple searches.
  • Remember that searching is a process that takes practice, time and patience.
  • If frustrated contact a medical librarian.

The MeSH Database:

  • Is accessible from PubMed’s left blue navigation bar or at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mesh.
  • Helps users to locate MeSH terms.
  • Provides access to subheadings to refine searches.
  • Defines MeSH terms and provides access to the hierarchical MeSH Tree.
  • Can be used to build PubMed search strategies, however, the resultant searches although targeted may exclude current citations not yet indexed with MeSH.

The Boolean Operator AND:

  • Narrows a search so that retrieved citations contain information about both search terms. For example, “cranberry juice AND urinary tract infections” retrieves information about both cranberry juice and urinary tract infections.
  • AND is automatically inserted between search terms in PubMed.

The Boolean Operator OR:

  • Broadens a search so retrieved citations contain information about either search terms. For example, “cranberry juice OR blueberry juice” retrieves information about either cranberry juice or blueberry juice.
  • Must be capitalized in order to be recognized in PubMed.


  • Should be added one at a time to better control searching.
  • Remain in effect until they are cleared or if you switch to “related articles”.


  • Is a free service that allows registered users to save searches, set preferences and set up automatic updates.

Printing, Emailing and Exporting citations:

  • Can be done by first selecting applicable citations and then using the drop-down menu labeled “send to”. From this menu select either “printer”, “email” or “file” (for exporting to a reference manager).