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Quotation Marks Replace the + Operator

Google elimiated the + operator in October 2011 and expanded the capabilities of the quotation marks (” ”) operator. In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely. So, if in the past you would have searched for [ magazine +latina ], you should now search for [ magazine "latina" ].

Force Google to match a term exactly by enclosing the term in quotation marks.

To force Google to search for a particular term, enclose the term between quotation marks " " So, to search for the satirical newspaper The Onion, use [ "The" Onion ].

The " " operator is typically used around stop words (words that Google would otherwise ignore) or when you want Google to return only those pages that match your search terms exactly.

Want to learn about Star Wars Episode One? “I” is a stop word and is not included in a search unless you enclose it in quotes.

Google excludes common words in English and in other languages, such as “la” (which means “the” in Spanish) and “de” (which means “of” in French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese). So if Google ignores a term critical to your search, e.g., LA (common abbreviation for Los Angeles), enclose the term in quotes.

The query [ jobs in central LA California ] finds jobs in central California, since the term “LA” is ignored because it’s a stop word. Central California is at least a hundred miles (160 km) from central Los Angeles.

Disable automatic stemming, i.e., searching for pages that match variants of your search term(s), by enclosing each term in quotes that you want to be matched exactly. For example, if you want to see only pages mentioning one favorite book rather than lists of favorite books, enclose the word “book” in quotes.

Google will search for “favourite” and “favorite” too. To prevent this, enclose the word “favorite” in quotes.

The previous example will search for pages containing both words anywhere on the page, in either order. (For instance, “book” could appear before “favorite.”) As explained in the preceding page, quotation marks are also used around phrases that Google should match exactly. So, searching for [ "favorite book" ] would only find pages with the two-word phrase favorite book.

What if you’re looking for a string that contains a “+” sign? Though the character has special meaning, Google gives special attention to very common terms that include it, e.g., C++ (the name of a widely used computer language).

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This page was last modified on: Sunday February 26, 2012

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Creative Commons

By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy & create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.