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Library Portal Primo Help

Receive help on literature searching and how to handle search results in the library’s Primo portal here.

We have gathered together information about the user account along with loan terms and reservations under „Use the Library“.

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What‘s included in Primo catalog?

With Charité Catalog and Charité Catalog + Articles the library portal offers you two search scopes. Default setting is the option “Charité Catalog + Articles”.

Within the Charité Catalog scope you will find:

  • Printed books in the Medical Library of the Charité and libraries of Freie Universität
  • Printed journals and newspapers in the Medical Library of the Charité and libraries of Freie Universität
  • E-books licensed for the Medical Library of the Charité
  • E-journals licensed for the Medical Library of the Charité
  • Audiovisual content on CD or DVD in the Medical Library of the Charité
  • Databases licensed for the Medical Library of the Charité

The Charité Catalog does not cover:

  • Book chapters
  • Journal articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Database content
  • Free e-books on external platforms
  • Websites

Within the Charité Catalog + Articles scope you will find in addition:

  • Journal articles
  • Newspaper articles
  • Free e-books on external platforms
  • Book chapters
  • Websites, etc.

Charité-Katalog + Artikel is a mega-index hosted by Primo developer Ex Libris. It contains more than one billion datasets from external sources. Those sources include publisher data, subject databases and subject portals as well as open-access data.
(vgl. Liste der Anbieter im Index)

♥ Hint: You can customize ranking rules in Charité Catalog + Articles.

More results from Charité Catalog + Articles

The basic result set is limited to resources listed in Charité Catalog + Article for which full texts are accessible. Charité members and users at Charité Medical libraries have access to licensed e-resources

♥ Hint: Check the "Expand Results" box if you want results to be included for which full texts are not accessible. The expanded result list may contain titles that exist in printed editions in the Charité library system or that can be procured from other libraries through interlibrary loan (vgl.: Informationen zur Fernleihe).

More results from databases or Google Scholar

Charité Catalog + Artikel is constantly being added to. However, sources relevant for your project may be not yet be included in the mega-index. Therefore, you should use the selection of databases provided by Medical Library of the Charité in addition to Primo. Another recommendation for your literature search is Google Scholar.

Basic Search – one search box for everything

EXAMPLE: Taschenatlas Neurologie 2018 For that query, Primo will return all records that contain Taschenatlas AND Neurologie AND 2018 in any parts of the data. Results may include the original work as well as a reviews. Search terms may be present anywhere in the full text.

In basic search, your query is carried out in all parts of the record (author, title, place of publication, publisher, year of publication, shelf number, classification code, etc.), even in abstracts if available and, in some cases, in full texts.

If no Boolean operators are included in a query, Primo will return results that contain all terms used.

Before you start your search, you can determine whether it will be carried out in the combined scopes, Charité Catalog + Articles, or in the Charité Catalog scope only.

Connect different terms in a query

EXAMPLE: intensive care medicine OR intensivmedizin Primo will convert the query to: (intensive AND care AND medicine) OR intensivmedizin: Results will contain the terms 'intensive' and ‘care’ and 'medicine' (preferably close to one another); or the term 'intensivmedizin' (not necessarily close to the other terms); or, of course, all four terms. The parentheses will be added automatically to terms that have no operators inbetween.
EXAMPLE: stefan silbernagl NOT taschenbuch physiologie Primo will convert the query thus: (stefan AND silbernagl) NOT (taschenbuch AND physiologie), adding parentheses automatically.
EXAMPLE: (H5N1 europe) NOT (asia OR africa) Results will contain the terms H5N1 and europe, european, etc., but not asia or africa.

Allowed operators are AND, OR, and NOT (in capitals). UND, ODER, and NICHT are also recognized. If no Boolean operators are included in a query, Primo will return results that contain all terms used. A maximum of 30 Boolean operators are accepted.

♥ With standard settings active, if no operators are included in a query and the number of results that contain all terms is low, Primo will return results that contain only some of the terms.






When using more than one operator, parentheses are recommended.

Truncation – search with wildcard characters

EXAMPLE: inflammat* → inflammatio, inflammation, inflammatory etc. Please note: Truncations in queries in all categories within the Charité Catalog + Articles scopes combined can produce millions of results. Retrieval will be interrupted, and an incomplete result list as well as a warning will be displayed. Skip to Advanced Search in order to continue your search with truncated terms, but refining your search by selecting a search category, such as title, author or subject heading.
EXAMPLE: „die geschichte der chirurgie“ Primo will return results that contain that exact phrase.

Search terms can be truncated. That means that you can specify a word base and add an asterisk (*) to replace any number of letters. At least two letters must precede an asterisk.
Queries with more than eight truncated terms will not be evaluated.
Use the question mark (?) in order to replace exactly one letter.
Wildcard characters at the beginning of a word will have no effect. (Example: ?entralblatt will be treated as 'entralblatt' – not 'Centralblatt' or 'Zentralblatt').


By enclosing search terms in quotation marks, you can limit your search to results that contain exactly those words in exactly that order.

Advanced Search – connect search areas

Screenshot aus dem Charité-Katalog: verknüpfte Suche

Advanced Search gives you more control than Basic Search. Up to seven search boxes can be used. Boolean operators can be selected from a menu. Boolean operators regulate the way in which search terms are combined.

Search by categories

Specify whether the term you are using should be part of the author, title, or publisher information. You will obviously get more relevant results.

Example: Author contains apgar AND Title contains  infant
(Figure above)

♥  A verbal description of your query appears at the bottom of the search form.

Search types

  1. contains
    Default setting
  2. is (exact)
    Use this setting to find exact phrases (see above).
    Alternative: use quotation marks!
  3. starts with
    For title searches, search type "starts with" allows you, for instance, to find very short journal titles more easily.
    Example: Title starts with cell [+ filter journals]


In order to preclude redundant results, apply the filters forIn order to preclude redundant results, apply the filters for Material Type, Language, and Publication Date in the right part of the search form.

Save and export search results

Save search history

During each session in Primo, your searches are recorded in the Search History, so that you can reiterate them.
If you are signed in to Primo, you can save any search from the Search History of the current session by clicking on the pin icon. That way you can repeat that search in future sessions at any later point in time.


Favorites serve to collect datasets found in Primo. In order to set favorites click on the pin icon.
The advantage of using favorites is that you can easily get back to datasets resulting from your searches without having to repeat those searches. This would also be an easy way, for example, to put together a list of books that you have taken out or browsed. Also, you can use this functionality to remember books that you want to take out later.

To access your favorites, click on the pin icon above the search box.

Exporting catalog data

You can export bibliographic data (author, title, etc.) for subsequent use as:

  • Printout
  • E-mail text
  • Copy to clipboard of citation in MLA, Chicago, or Harvard format
  • File in RIS format for citation-management software
  • File in tagged EndNote format for citation-management software
  • File in BibTex format for citation-management software
  • Copy to clipboard of permalink that facilitates coming back to a certain dataset on the library portal Primo

You will find export options for every title in Primo. If you collect datasets as favorites first, you can then export data for up to 30 titles at once.

Too many results? Filter, sort and rank results

  • Filtering result lists

Use the facets displayed to the right of the result list. Choose either facets to limit results to books, to journal articles, to publication years, to libraries, to languages, to subject terms or classification codes.

Facets can be set to either include or exclude certain parameters, and combinations of facets are possible.

♥ Hint: Move the mouse pointer to one of the facets. Check the boxes to the left of a facet option in order to combine two or more options.

♦ Note: In Primo, there are static facets for the entire result set (for instance, print and online formats; various material types), and there are dynamic facets, that are generated as result lists are created. Dynamic filters are applied to a maximum of 50,000 hits.

  • Sorting result lists

The default sorting is by Primo relevance. Primo relevance depends on whether results contain the query terms in the same order as was used in the query, on whether they appear in prominent parts of the results, and on how frequently they turn up.

♥ Hint: In a list sorted by date, the relevance of the results that appear on top will obviously be reduced. Instead of sorting the results by date, use the date-range facet (by selecting 2016 to 2016, for example); that way, you reduce the amount of hits to the years relevant to your search, and the relevance ranking remains intact.

  •  Modify your query

Result sets vary in quality depending on the query and the selected scope.

If your search yields too many results, you should add terms to your query or choose more relevant terms.

If there is a very low number of hits, the search maschine will automatically return full-text hits from Charité + Articles. In order to get a higher number of hits, choose more general query terms, truncate terms, or use English-language terms. Try combining those search strategies in one query, using the operator OR.

♥ Hint: The Primo search engine is programmed to return "smart" results for all kinds of queries. That is why, if a query yields a low number of results in an article search, full-text search is automatically activated, or the result set is extended to include documents that do not contain all query terms or slightly different terms (with other suffixes, for example).

  •  Get more relevant results by field-specific querie

In Advanced Search, you can define whether a particular term should be contained in author, title, or publisher fields, for example.

  • Get more relevant results for journal-article searches by changing the settings for ranking

Improve the order in which results for a journal-article search are displayed by selecting a discipline in the Personalize dialog. Your discipline preferences will enter into the ranking mechanism.

No results?

Your search has no results or unexpected?

  • Verify your query terms for typos and alternative spellings (foto ≠ photo, color ≠ colour).
  • Avoid terms with special characters, such as hyphens, apostrophes, etc.
  • Use fewer search terms.
  • Use more general terms.
  • Truncate search terms by replacing letters at the ends of a word by an asterisk *
  • Search in subject-specific databases
  • Check that your search matches the profile of the Charité Medical Library
  • Expand your search to other libraries' holdings and gather information from databases or from the Internet
  • Seek assistance: