New Proximity Search Feature Available in PubMed

New Proximity Search Feature Available in PubMed

PubMed, a free National Library of Medicine (NLM) resource supporting the search and retrieval of biomedical and life sciences literature, has a brand-new feature! With proximity search, you can now search for multiple terms appearing in any order within a specified distance of one another in the [Title] or [Title/Abstract] fields. 

Proximity search adds another useful tool to your search toolkit. Proximity searching can be particularly helpful when seeking concepts that may be represented in multiple ways, or to capture variations of a phrase. There is often more than one way to search for a concept. You may try searching for the same terms using a variety of techniques (e.g., combining terms with AND, searching for an exact phrase) and compare the results to help you decide which option(s) to use. You can also build queries that combine proximity searches with other search terms using Boolean operators. 

How can I create a proximity search in PubMed? 

To create a proximity search in PubMed, enter terms using the following format: 

“search terms”[field:~N]  

  • Search terms = Two or more words enclosed in double quotes. 
  • Field = The search field tag for the [Title] or [Title/Abstract] fields.  
  • N = The maximum number of words that may appear between your search terms. 


For example, to search PubMed for citations where the terms “hip” and “pain” appear with no more than two words between them in the Title/Abstract search field, try the search: 

“hip pain”[Title/Abstract:~2] 

Search results may include hip pain, hip-related pain, hip joint pain, hip/groin pain, hip biomechanics and pain, pain after total hip arthroplasty, pain in right hip, and more (see below). 


See the PubMed User Guide and view the proximity searching tutorial for more examples and information about proximity searching in PubMed. You can also view our NLM Technical Bulletin for additional information and FAQs.  

If you have any questions, or you’d like to provide us feedback, please write to the Help Desk.

3 thoughts on “New Proximity Search Feature Available in PubMed

  1. In order for this feature to really make a difference, it needs to allow for truncation of words. I would also prefer if it allowed proximity searching in Text Word, but Title/abstract is fine, if it would allow truncation.

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