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PubMed Search Guide: Searching PubMed (including MeSH)

Best PubMed URL to use

The best way for UToledo affiliates to search PubMed is through the link PubMed@UToledo:

  • The PubMed@UToledo connection tells PubMed to show information about  journals available at UToledo.
  • It not only links to the full text of freely available articles but also links to articles in electronic journals that UToledo subscribes to. See Obtaining Article Full Text for details.
  • A PubMed@UToledo link is available in the right-side menu of the Mulford Library home page.
  • One may also find this link by typing PubMed in the Search catalog... box at the top of either the Carlson  or Mulford Library home page.

"Quick Search"

For a quick search, simply enter terms in the search box.

Click on Advanced under the search box to have more control over the search.

The best way to search PubMed is by using the MeSH Databse (consisting of MeSH, or Medical Subject Headings - see Explore menu at bottom of the page).

Using Advanced search:

  • Go to the Search Builder box
    • Click Show Index to see a list of terms, if desired
    • Use the drop down menu to add AND, OR or NOT with search terms to the search box
    • Repeat steps as necessary
    • Click Search to run your query. The results may be refined by using the filters in the left-side menu of the results page.
    • Once the search is run, click Advanced Search again  to see the result count of your query in the History and Search Details section
    • Click on Details to view how PubMed interpretted your search terms

Refining Results

Search results may be refined by using the limits in the left-side menu of the results page and by clicking on Additional filters at the bottom of the menu. The Limits options include publication date, languages, and age groups.


Combining results from two (2) or more searches

Often searches will contain more than one concept (as treating hypertension in diabetic patients)

    •  Search for each concept separately (in the above example, search for hypertension, then search separately for diabetes mellatus)
    • Remember, it is best to use MeSH headings for more focused results
      • Click on Advanced Search at the top of the page

        •   The searches will be found in the Search History box with an identifying statement number, as #1 Search diabetes mellitus[MeSH Major Topic]

        •   The searches may be combined with the connectors AND, OR, or NOT  

        •  These connectors may be activated by (usually left) clicking on the statement number in Search History

        •  Alternatively one may enter a number sign followed by the search number, e.g. #1, in the search box


A step-by-step guide to combining search results in PubMed is available. 

See the Step-by-Step Searching in PubMed help sheet at

PubMed Search Strategies Blog

This blog features comprehensive PubMed searches combining keywords and MeSH terms. Visit the blog to browse or search for a pre-formulated search on your topic. You can then copy and paste the search into PubMed@UToledo and use the Advanced Search link at the top to combine the results into your own search strategy. Remember, the Mulford Reference Librarians can help you formulate a comprehensive search strategy as well!

A few recent search strategies featured on the blog include:

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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the U.S. National Library of Medicine's controlled vocabulary.

  • It is used for indexing articles for MEDLINE/PubMed.
  • MeSH terminology provides a consistent way to retrieve information that may use different terminology for the same concepts. 
  • It pulls together all articles on a concept including synonyms (myocardial infarction/heart attack) and allows for spelling variations (estrogen/oestrogen).
  • The MesH database link may be found at the Pubmed home page under Resources.

  • It may also be found at the Advanced Search page by scrolling down to More Resources.

When searching for a MeSH term (as Heart), the results will include

  • Subheadings
    (if none are selected, results will include results with or without the subheadings;
    if two(2) or more are selected, then results will include only citations that include all the subheadings selected)

  • Entry terms (MeSH synonyms, as Hearts for MeSH term heart)

Refine a search through these options

  • See also terms  (as Myocardium  for MeSH term Heart)

Example of a Detailed MeSH Search:

To find PubMed articles with comments

PubMed Commons is a feature of PubMed which allows commenting on articles. To find articles with comments attached, search with


Detailed help and tutoritals

Alternative Methods for Searching PubMed Data

In addition to PubMed@UToledo, there are a variety of sites that let you search the data in PubMed or MEDLINE (sometimes combined with other data sources) using a different interface.  Some emphasize relevancy searching, others quick access to full text, or helping you locate evidence based medicine. Even more alternative biomedical literature search tools (most incorporating MEDLINE data) can be explored and compared at this page.

The UToledo Health Science Librarians recommend PubMed@UToledo as the best place to start searching, but you may also find these sites useful.

Basic (nlp) Advanced (syntax)

PubMed PubReminer