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Embase (English): Tips & Tricks

This LibGuide offers an overview of the various search options of the biomedical database Embase on the Ovid platform.

Searching for literature

Balans Always keep in mind the aim of your literature search. If you perform a very broad search, you may find too many irrelevant articles.
A very specific search, on the other hand, may result in fewer articles, but you will risk missing some important ones.

PubMed search plan


When working on an extensive search, you may want to keep track of the search strategy in a logbook. You can save your work with an Ovid account (see box at the bottom right of this page) or by documenting the search strategy in a Word or Excel document.

At the bottom right of the search history there are several buttons:

  • Copy search history details
  • Copy search history link: creates a link to rerun the search in a future session.

Too many results

When you retrieve too many results, there are several options to limit the number of results:

  • Use more specific search terms
    • Emtree
      • search for articles where the Emtree term is the major topic by using focus (Page: Emtree > Thesaurus)
      • limit an Emtree term with relevant subheading(s) (Page: Emtree > Subheadings)
    • Searches by word or phrase
      • replace search terms with more specific terms
      • search for title words and author keywords by using .ti,kf. instead of .ti,ab,kf.
  • Restrict to recent articles by using limits
  • Restrict to certain study types, by excluding conference abstracts with limits, for instance

Too few results

Similarly, when you have too few results, there are several options to broaden your search:

  • Check relevant articles for words (in title and abstract) and assigned Emtree terms, and add those to your search strategy
  • Supplement your Emtree terms with a broader Emtree term, usually one lever higher
  • Broaden the search by leaving out a (too specific) search concept
  • Search additionally in another (biomedical) database, for instance PubMed / MEDLINE or Web of Science


Search results can be exported from Embase to reference managers, such as EndNote.

  1. Selecting references
    In Embase tick 'All' or the desired records, or fill in the range. Embase allows the export of max. 1000 records at a time.
  2. Exporting references
    Click 'Export' and choose EndNote as 'Format'.
    Under 'Fields', select the desired data (e.g. 'Citation, Abstract, Subject Heading') and click 'Export'.

When you have already opened an EndNote Library, the import starts automatically. Alternatively, manually open the downloaded .cgi file in EndNote.

Want to know more on EndNote?

Ovid account

With an Ovid account you can save your search strategies in My Workspace:

  • to work on it at a later time
  • to set up an email alert to stay informed of new articles in your research area

More information can be found in Ovid Online Help.