PubMed Help Guide

Searches MEDLINE, which is the primary source of journal articles for the health sciences (fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, public health, health care systems, and basic sciences). Coverage is from the 1940s to the present.

Database Information: PubMed

Go to PubMed

What is PubMed?

  • PubMed is the free web interface to the MEDLINE database. PubMed indexes the published journal literature in clinical medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, veterinary health, allied health fields and some basic bioscience literature.
  • PubMed contains more than 30 million citations and abstracts of peer-reviewed biomedical literature. It does not include full-text journal articles; however, links to the full text are often present when available from other sources, such as the publisher's website or PubMed Central (PMC).   The citations come from more than 5,200 worldwide journals in about 40 languages.
  • Coverage is from 1946-present

Searching PubMed

Searching PubMed  (PubMed User Guide)

  • Identify the key concepts for your search. 
  • Enter the terms (or key concepts) in the search box.
  • Press the Enter key or click Search.

Combining search terms with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)

PubMed applies an AND operator between concepts, e.g., “vitamin c common cold” is translated as vitamin c AND common cold. Enter Boolean operators in uppercase characters to combine or exclude search terms:

  • AND retrieves results that include all the search terms.
  • OR retrieves results that include at least one of the search terms.
  • NOT excludes the retrieval of terms from your search.

PubMed processes searches in a left-to-right sequence. Use parentheses to “nest” concepts that should be processed as a unit and then incorporated into the overall search.  Boolean operators must be used when combining tagged search terms as follows: search term [tag] BOOLEAN OPERATOR search term [tag].

Searching for a phrase

PubMed does not perform adjacency searching. However, many phrases are recognized by the subject translation table used in PubMed's Automatic Term Mapping (ATM). For example, if you enter fever of unknown origin, PubMed recognizes this phrase as a MeSH Term.

You can bypass ATM and search for a specific phrase using the following formats:

  • Enclose the phrase in double quotes: "kidney allograft"
    • If you use quotes and the phrase is not found in the phrase index, the quotes are ignored and the terms are processed using automatic term mapping.
  • Use a search tag: kidney allograft[tw]
    • If you use a search tag and the phrase is not found in the phrase index, the phrase will be broken into separate terms, e.g., "psittacine flight" is not in the phrase index, so a search for psittacine flight[tw] is broken up and translated as: ((("psittaciformes"[MeSH Terms] OR "psittaciformes"[All Fields]) OR "psittacine"[All Fields]) OR "psittacines"[All Fields]) AND "flight"[Text Word]
  • Use a hyphen: kidney-allograft
    • If you use a hyphen and the phrase is not found in the phrase index, the search will not return any results for that phrase.

Applying Filters/Limits

You can use filters to narrow your search results by article type, text availability, publication date, species, language, sex, subject, journal category, and age.

To apply a filter:

  • Run a search in PubMed.
  • Click the filter you would like to activate from the sidebar. A check mark will appear next to the activated filter(s). 
  • Subsequent searches will be filtered until the selected filters are cleared, or until 8 hours of inactivity.

The most popular filters are included on the sidebar by default. To display additional filters on the sidebar:

  • Click the “Additional filters” button.
  • A pop-up menu will appear showing the available filters for each category: article type, species, language, sex, subject, journal, and age.
  • Choose a category from the list of options on the left side of the menu: Article Type, Species, etc.
  • Within each category, select the filters you would like to add to the sidebar.
  • Click Apply. This will close the pop-up menu and display your selections on the sidebar with the other filters.
  • If you would like to cancel your selections, click Cancel or click on the X in the upper right corner to close the pop-up and return to your search results.
  • To apply the filter(s) to your search, click the filter(s) on the sidebar.

Advanced Search

  • Use the Advanced Search Builder to search for terms in a specific field, such as author, journal or MeSH term. For some fields, an autocomplete feature will provide suggestions as you type.
    • From the "All Fields" drop-down menu, select the field you would like to search.
    • Add terms from the builder to the query box to construct your search. The default Boolean operator is AND; if desired, choose OR or NOT from the pull-down menu.
    • Once you have finished adding terms to the query box, click Search (or Add to History) to run the search.

Your PubMed search history appears on the Advanced Search page under History.

Display, Sort, and Navigate your PubMed Results

  • Citations are initially displayed 10 items per page and sorted by Best Match.
    • You can change the number of citations displayed per page using the display options menu:
      • Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the search results page
      • Select the number of citations to display per page: 10, 20, 50, 100, or 200
      • Click "Show more" to display the next page of results, or click "Jump to page" to navigate directly to a specific page of results. 

  • By default, PubMed search results are displayed in a summary format and include snippets from the citation abstract. Snippets and highlighted terms are selected based on relatedness to your query.
  • To see the abstract for an individual citation, click the title of the citation to go to its abstract page or change the search results display to Abstract format using the gear icon in the upper right corner of the search results page.

Getting full text

When using Library resources, the FindIt link is your connection to accessing the full text of articles if a PDF link is not already visible.

This short video will show you how to get to the articles you need for your research paper or other University of Minnesota assignments. Never pay for articles! If we don't have it online, request it and we will get it for you. 


Exporting Results From PubMed

Export citations into citation management software

To export citations into a citation management software program such as EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero, follow the instructions for saving citations as a text file and choose the format: RIS. Import this saved file into your citation management program.

Email citations

  • Use the check boxes to select citations from your search results or Clipboard. You may move to other pages and continue your selections. You may also choose to email all citations shown on the page without making any selections.
  • Click the Email button.
  • Enter an email address, subject line, and any additional text you would like to include in the body of the email. Select which citations to send and the format.
  • Click Send email. The system returns you to your results page and displays a confirmation e-mail sent message.

Use the print function of your web browser. To print citations from different searches, save the citations in PubMed’s Clipboard, and then print.

Saving Results/Personal Account in PubMed

Managing Citations to Send to Printer/Email/Other Outputs

  • From your search results, use the check boxes to select items. To save all results (up to a maximum of 500), do not tick any check boxes.
    • Use the Save button to download citations to a text file and and choose a Selection and Format from the menus that appear.
    • To email a list of citations, click the Email button.
    • Click the ellipses button " ... " to show more actions.
      • The Clipboard stores up to 500 PubMed citations from one or more searches for up to 8 hours 
      • The My Bibliography option sends citations into the My Bibliography section and the Collections option stores selected citations in named collections in the Collections section of My NCBI (you must have an My NCBI account to use this feature).  

  • To get the URL for an individual citation, copy the permalink for the citation under "Share."  To get the URL for your search results, copy the URL from your web browser's address bar or bookmark the URL using your web browser's bookmark function.

My NCBI (My NCBI help)

My NCBI saves searches and results from PubMed and features an option to automatically update and e-mail search results from your saved searches. My NCBI includes features that help you manage peer review article compliance with the NIH Public Access Policy (My Bibliography)

Use the NCBI link to sign in to My NCBI. This link can be accessed from any NCBI database and it appears at the top right of the screen. The URL to the login page is

Registering with My NCBI

  • Click on the Sign in to NCBI link in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
  • Enter an alphanumeric username (3 or more letters or numbers) and a password (8 or more characters). Passwords are case-sensitive.
  • Enter your e-mail address.
  • Choose a security question and answer. This information will be used to reset your password.
  • Below the Security Question, you will see an image with 5 characters. This step is to help us prevent automated programs from registering accounts.
  • You will receive a confirmation e-mail from NCBI; confirm your registration by clicking the link provided. After confirming your e-mail address, you can start setting up automatic e-mails for search alerts.

Auto Alerts in PubMed

Create an email alert for a search

Click "Create alert" under the search bar to create an automatic email update for searches. You must sign in to My NCBI to use this feature.

PubMed Tutorials and Guides

PubMed User Guide FAQs and How to Search PubMed (frequently updated)

PubMed Quick Videos

PubMed: Find articles on a topic A brief tutorial on how to find articles on a topic using PubMed.  (1 min(s)) MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Find articles by author A brief tutorial on how to find articles by an author using PubMed. (2 min(s)) MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Find articles from a citation A brief tutorial on how to find articles from citation information using PubMed. (2 min(s)) MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Find articles by journal A brief tutorial on how to find articles from a journal using PubMed. (2 min(s))  MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Find the latest treatments for a disease or disorder A brief tutorial on how to find the latest treatments for a disease or disorder using PubMed. (2 min(s))  MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Get the full text for an article A brief tutorial on how to get the full text for an article cited in PubMed. (2 min(s)) MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed: Save searches and set e-mail alerts A brief tutorial on how to get alerts for articles on a topic using PubMed. (2 min(s))                                                                                                                                                                         MP4 Video / Quick Tour

PubMed subject search: How it works A brief tutorial on how automatic term mapping and explosion enhance your PubMed search. (4 min(s)) MP4 Video/Quick Tour

PubMed: Using the Advanced Search Builder learn to use PubMed's Advanced Search features to refine your search with the example of a publication date range; and find journal and author names using the autocomplete feature. (3 min(s)) / MP4 Video

PubMed and MedlinePlus: Consumer health Help consumers find research in PubMed using MedlinePlus (3 min(s)) MP4 Video / Quick Tour

Self-Paced Online Training Course

Using PubMed in Evidence-Based Practice  created to help clinicians including nurses and allied health professionals develop a clinical question using the PICO framework and efficiently find relevant biomedical literature using PubMed. The tutorial was designed to be completed in less than 30 minutes.  Includes scenarios and try-it exercises.


My NCBI Outside Tool: Connecting your My NCBI account to UMN Find It 

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2022 11:41 AM