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 December 27, 2004 [posted]
March 11, 2005 [posted]

 New PubMed® Spell Checking Feature

drop cap letter for a new spell checking feature will be added to PubMed to suggest alternative spellings for PubMed search terms that include misspellings. Terms entered with a search tag (e.g., [mh]; [majr]; [tw]) will not generate alternative spellings.

[Editor's note: This feature was implemented in PubMed on February 7, 2005.]

Results from a search will display along with an option to link to the alternative spelling to provide users with an easy way to retrieve results for untagged words that are misspelled.

For example, a search for: breast cancerr probably does not retrieve the desired results. A "Did you mean:" link will display the alternative spelling along with the number of citations that will be retrieved for the query using the alternative spelling (see Figure 1).

  figure 1: graphic

Users may click the "Did you mean:" link to run the search in PubMed using the alternative spelling of the term (see Figure 2).

  figure 2: graphic

The Spell Checking Function
The spell check feature tries to determine what the user intended and then displays an alternative spelling. The alternative spellings are not based on a dictionary but rather the frequency with which a term appears in PubMed. The spell checking function will not display an alternative spelling for misspellings that have a high frequency of occurrence in PubMed or for terms with numbers or fewer than five characters. The feature works best for terms with multiple words. For example, it will not suggest an alternative for brest, but it will for brest cancer. This feature is different from the feature used to create suggestions in the MeSH and Journals databases which is based on a fuzzy matching algorithm.

By Kathi Canese
National Center for Biotechnology Information

black line separting article from citation

Canese K. New PubMed® Spell Checking Feature. NLM Tech Bull. 2004 Nov-Dec;(341):e12.


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