PubMed LinkOut FAQ

What is LinkOut?

LinkOut is a feature of PubMed that provides links to web-accessible resources directly from PubMed citations. You can use LinkOut to determine whether [YOUR LIBRARY] provides electronic full text for a journal article and/or whether the article is available in a printed journal in the library.

You can also use LinkOut to discover links to other useful online resources.

How do I know if [YOUR LIBRARY] has the full text online or in print?

When you enter PubMed through the "PubMed" link on the [YOUR LIBRARY]'s webpage, you will see [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icons on citations for which [YOUR LIBRARY] provides electronic full text or print copies of the article.

If the library has access to electronic full text, you will see this icon:    default icon reading Online Full-text; blue background with yellow text

If the library has the article in a print journal, you will see this icon:      default icon reading Local Print Collection; yellow background with black text

How do I "turn on" the [YOUR LIBRARY]'s LinkOut icons in PubMed?

There are three ways to see the [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icons in PubMed.

  1. Always enter PubMed through the "PubMed" link on the [YOUR LIBRARY] website.
  2. Always enter PubMed through this special URL: [INSERT YOUR LIBRARY'S SPECIAL URL].
  3. Use your My NCBI account:

Where can I see the icons?

Search PubMed as usual. Then, select Abstract from the Display Settings menu and click Apply. You will see [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icons. The icons appear on citations from the library's subscribed journals only. To see the icons, you MUST enter PubMed using one of the three methods listed above.

What do the icons do?

Click default icon reading Online Full-text; blue background with yellow text to view the electronic full text of the article. When you click this icon, you leave PubMed and are directed to the full-text provider's site.

Click default icon reading Local Print Collection; yellow background with black text for information about the library's print collection of that journal.

If you see both icons, it means that the library has the article in print and online.

What electronic journals are available through LinkOut?

[YOUR LIBRARY]'s electronic full-text icon will appear on citations if:

  1. [YOUR LIBRARY] has access to the electronic journal through a subscription or licensing agreement


  2. The publisher or agent with which [YOUR LIBRARY] has an agreement provides links to PubMed for the journal.

You can also find links to free full text in PubMed. Look for this notation in the Summary display: Free Article. This indicates that there is a link to free full text on the abstract.

Some records show an icon that is not [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icon. What does this mean?

You may see icons that are not [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icons. These link to the full text at the publisher's site. Some articles may be available free of charge, however many publishers require a subscription to the journal or provide access to the article for a fee.

For best results, always click on [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icon to access the full text or look for the free full text notation (Free Article) in the Summary display. If there is no [YOUR LIBRARY] icon and the full text is not freely available, you may be able to access the full text in another way.

Can I limit my search to items available through [YOUR LIBRARY]?

Answer #1: For users with My NCBI accounts

When you go to PubMed, sign into your My NCBI account the library icons and "turn on" [YOUR LIBRARY], as described above. Then you will see [YOUR LIBRARY]'s filter to the right of your search result. Click this link to view citations that are available through [YOUR LIBRARY].

Answer #2: For users that do not have My NCBI accounts

Yes. To limit your search to items available through [YOUR LIBRARY], add the following to your search statement:


PubMed will filter your results and provide only the article citations for which [YOUR LIBRARY] has access. You will have to add this phrase to every search.

CAUTION: If you limit your search in this way, you may not retrieve every relevant citation for your search!!

How can I view full text from off-campus?


Why can I view the full text for some issues of a journal and not for others?

Access to full text is determined by the terms of a subscription license or contract between [YOUR LIBRARY] and the full-text provider. The full-text provider determines which years and issues are available on the Internet and the cost of accessing these issues.

Additionally, full-text providers may choose not to provide links in PubMed for certain volumes, issues, or articles. Reasons for this vary, but typically full text may not be available for some material, including very new citations, letters, and editorials.

Why don't I get the full text when I click on the Print icon?

The Print icon indicates that the library has the volume and issue for the citation available in print. You will need to visit the library in person to use the paper copies of the journal to obtain the article.

I know we have full text access to a journal, but I don't see the [YOUR LIBRARY] icon in PubMed. Why?

Library links are created using information submitted to LinkOut by full-text providers. If a full-text provider does not submit linking information, library links cannot be made.

Some of the reasons why your icons may not be appearing on a journal are:

What if I don't see [YOUR LIBRARY]'s icon, but I want the full text?


How can I use LinkOut to find resources other than full text?

Links to other resources are located in the LinkOut - more resources expandable list. You can access the LinkOut - more resources expandable list by viewing a single citation in the Abstract format and clicking on LinkOut - more resources below the abstract.

What if I need more help?

Contact [YOUR LIBRARY]'s Reference Desk at [INSERT EMAIL AND/OR PHONE NUMBER] if you need assistance or wish to report a problem.

Last Reviewed: 14 June 2011

Last Updated: 14 June 2011