Guides / Managing results / Optimize search results / Handling natural languages

Splitting and concatenation

Splitting long words into shorter ones and combining (concatenating) short words into longer ones help users find results even if what they’re searching for doesn’t exactly match what’s in your index.

Algolia splits and concatenates your search queries by default. You can adjust this setting in the Algolia dashboard, or with the typoTolerance API parameter.

To learn more about how the search engine processes your search query, see Tokenization.


During a search, the engine divides each non-separator token into two parts at every possible spot. The first part can be up to 12 characters, while the second part can be of any length.

For example, the query katherinejohnson is divided like this:

  • katherinejohnson
  • k, atherinejohnson
  • ka, therinejohnson
  • kat, herinejohnson
  • kath, erinejohnson
  • kathe, rinejohnson
  • kather, inejohnson
  • katheri, nejohnson
  • katherin, ejohnson
  • katherine, johnson
  • katherinej, ohnson
  • katherinejo, hnson
  • katherinejoh, nson

For each split, the engine looks for matches in your index. If there’s a match, the split is added as an alternative search term. For example, katherine and johnson might be in your index and would be used as search terms. But kath and etherinejohnson wouldn’t be used as search terms if they’re not in your index.

To keep your search fast, query words are split into just two parts. For example, the query jamesearljones is split into james and earljones, but not into james, earl, and jones.

If the engine finds multiple valid splits, it chooses the one with the most matches. For instance, “nowhere” could be split into no and where, or now and here. The split used depends on which segments appear more frequently in your records.

Splitting starts with queries with at least as many characters as determined by the minWordSizefor1Typo parameter. By default, minWordSizefor1Typo is 4, so splitting starts with the query kath.


Concatenation means combining tokens into one. This makes finding certain content easier, such as acronyms or contractions.

Concatenation during indexing

While indexing, during the tokenization, the engine combines tokens that are separated by specific characters:

  • . (period)
  • ' (apostrophe)
  • ® (registered symbol)
  • © (copyright symbol)

This approach works well for acronyms such as B.C.E. and contractions like don't.

For example, initially creates the tokens hello, ., world, and then helloworld after concatenation. The . is a separator and not indexed by default (see the separatorsToIndex parameter).

Tokens shorter than three characters are also not indexed. For example, B.C.E. creates the tokens B, ., C, ., E and BCE. Only BCE is indexed, but not B, C, E, or the separator ..

Concatenation at query time

The search engine performs the same concatenation in search queries as it does during indexing. Plus, it uses these additional concatenations:

  • Bi-gram concatenation. The engine merges each pair of adjacent tokens for the first five words in the query.
  • All-word concatenation. If the query contains three or more words, the engine combines all words into a single token.

For example, the search query a wonderful day in the neighborhood results in these tokens:

  • Initial tokenization: a, wonderful, day, in, the, neighborhood
  • Bi-gram concatenation: awonderful, wonderfulday, dayin, inthe
  • All-word concatenation: awonderfuldayintheneighborhood

Concatenation with numbers

The engine has special rules for the concatenation of tokens with numbers and separators.

If the first character of a token is a number, it won’t be merged with adjacent tokens. For example, m.55 creates the token m55, but forms the tokens 5 and mm, but not 5mm. This rule helps searching for floating point numbers, ensuring 1.3GB isn’t mistaken as 13GB.

Whenever there’s a number next to a separator, any adjacent non-separator tokens are indexed, regardless of their length. For example, 3.GB creates the tokens 3, ., and GB. The tokens 3 and GB are indexed, but 3GB is not, because it starts with a number. Likewise, in 1.5, both 1 and 5 are indexed.

The engine doesn’t use bi-gram concatenation on adjacent tokens if the first token ends with a digit and the second token starts with a digit. This helps with searches like: XC90 2020 Volvo, where users wouldn’t want to search for XC902020.

This rule might affect searches for hyphenated numbers, such as International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs). They’re 13-digits long and are formatted with hyphens—for example, 978-3-16-148410-0. If you indexed this ISBN as 9783161484100, a user can still find it by searching with hyphens 978-3-16-148410-0 or spaces 978 3 16 148410 0 (all-word concatenation). However, searches like 978316148410-0 or 978316148410 0 won’t find the record, as the engine doesn’t merge tokens that begin or end with numbers and are next to each other.

For more information, see searching in hyphenated attributes,

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