Can I use wildcards in the search function?

What is a wildcard?

A wildcard is a special symbol in a search function that can represent more than one character.

On the ECB Data Portal you can use either the asterisk (*) or the question mark (?) as wildcards. An asterisk will wildcard one or more characters, while the question mark will only wildcard one character.

Using a wildcard becomes handy when you want to expand your search for a particular search term.

Using an asterisk wildcard in a time series code

If you have knowledge of the SDMX information model and the series keys identifying the time series, you can easily use the wildcard function.

The ECB Data Portal's search tool will automatically assume that you are looking for a time series code when you use a wildcard. This is a powerful tool to find different methodologies within a dataset.

For example, take the time series code for Gross disposable income of households:


This is a single time series, but there are many others with varying concepts and methodologies associated with it.

In the ECB database you can find variations of this dataset in many of these dimensions. For example, if you want to find all related euro area countries of this time series, you can substitute and search the reference area (REF_AREA) dimension with the asterisk:


This will return, among others, the following series:


The ECB Data Portal search function will return all variations of the data, in this case all current and former EU countries. You can also include multiple wildcards in the time series dimensions for a larger array of results.

Difference between an asterisk and a question mark wildcard

The question mark will wildcard only one character. For example, if you look for the following series with wildcards you will receive different results.


The asterisk wildcard will return the following two search results:


The question mark wildcard, on the other hand, returns only one search result: