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MEDLINE (PubMed): Home

Making the most of MEDLINE

The MEDLINE (PubMed) database covers all aspects of human medicine and related biomedical research, including comprehensive information on drugs and toxicology, clinical medicine, biotechnology and bioengineering, health affairs, dentistry, psychiatry and forensic medicine. Here are some useful tips to using the tools and features.

Useful PubMed tools to improve your search

Choose a section from the table of contents to find out about some of the tools available in PubMed.

These tools can help improve the accuracy of your search, which will save you time.

All the tools can be accessed from the PubMed home page.

PubMed Clinical Queries provides specialised searches for clinicians. 

Search a keyword in the Clinical Queries box, and your results will be divided into columns under three headings:

  • Clinical Study Categories - clinical search filters based on the work of Haynes RB et al.
  • Systematic Reviews - a customized search strategy to retrieve a broad set of citations that build consensus on biomedical topics and include: systematic reviews, meta-analyses, reviews of clinical trials, evidence-based medicine, consensus development conferences, guidelines, and citations from journals specializing in clinical review studies.
  • Medical Genetics - search filters developed in conjunction with the staff of GeneReviews: Genetic Disease Online Reviews at GeneTests, University of Washington, Seattle.

This tool can be used when you only have a few details of a reference, for example, the author name and some words from the title.

MeSH stands for Medical Subject Headings. It is the controlled vocabulary used to index PubMed citations.  For more information on MeSH, see The Basics of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in MEDLINE®/PubMed®

Search the MeSH database to find the MeSH terms for the topic you are searching. You can then use these terms to build a more precise search in PubMed.

You can search your MeSH terms in PubMed easily, by using the search builder function. Check the box next to the term you want to use, and then click 'add to search builder'.

If you want, you can continue to search for more MeSH terms using the top search box - the term you have saved to the search builder will remain, and you can add other terms to it. When you are finished adding MeSH terms to the search builder, click on Search PubMed.

For more information about using MeSH in your PubMed search, watch this short video:

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Useful PubMed features to improve your search

Once you have run your search, there are several useful features you can use in PubMed. Click on the sections on the left hand side to find out more about some of them.

You can use the Send to menu to manage your search results.

Send to Clipboard

This is a way of temporarily saving your results (the contents of the Clipboard will be lost after 8 hours of inactivity).  You can select the references you want to save - or don't select any if you want them all - and then choose Send to Clipboard. 

Once you have saved your items you can continue searching, and access your results again by clicking on the clipboard link on the right hand side.

Save searches permanently by creating an account with My NCBI.

Send to email

Select the option to send to email. You can choose in which format you would like to receive your results (it is useful to include the abstract).

Send to citation manager

You can use this option to send your results to referencing managing software, such as EndNote.


From Display Settings, select a sort by option. Sort options include: Recently Added, Publication Date, First Author, Last Author, Journal, Title and Relevance.

N.B.The recently added date is the date a record was initially added to PubMed, not the publication date.

My NCBI saves searches, results, your bibliography, and features an option to automatically update and e-mail search results from your saved searches.

Click the My NCBI Sign In link, located at the top right of the page header, to sign into My NCBI or register for an account.

Watch the short video below to see how to sign up for an account and access full-text articles via the library.

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Accessing full-text articles via PubMed

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