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Punctuation, diacritics, and special characters

Find a list of punctuation, diacritics, and special characters used in WorldCat FirstSearch searching.

In general, do not enter punctuation such as , . ; and symbols such as $ % when you search.

 Note: Characters such as * ? # have special meaning as truncation and wildcard characters.

OCLC holdings symbols often contain special characters. Do not remove these characters when searching in an index such as "library" or when entering symbols for a limit.

Punctuation and diacritics

Accents and diacritics

Omit accent marks and diacritics (such as an cedilla or umlaut) and other punctuation marks when entering a search string.

to search for: enter:
façade kw:facade
gebäck kw:geback


Apostrophes are both:

  • Deleted and collapsed
  • Converted to a space

French word l'information can be searched as linformation or information. See additional examples below.

to search for: enter:
french word l'information kw:linformation or kw:information
author name O'Hara au:ohara or au:o hara
Ch'ing porcelain kw:ching porcelain or kw:ch ing porcelain

Special characters


Some special characters are replaced by a romanized form of the character:

to search for: enter:
hooked u u
Eszett ss


Enter a space in place of a / (slash).

to search for: enter:
brother/sister kw:brother sister or, more specifically, kw:brother w sister


Ampersands and hyphens can be included in a search.

character mark rule
Ampersand & Retained in search
Asterisk * Substitute a space
At sign @ Substitute a space
Apostrophe ' Indexed as both omit and close space and substitute a space. See Apostrophe.
Backslash \ Substitute a space
Brackets [ ] Omit and close space
Bracketed information [nnn] Include in searches except for:
  • [sic]
  • [i.e. and any following text]
Colon : Substitute a space
Comma , Substitute a space
Copyright © Omit and close space
Curly brackets { } Substitute a space
Degree ° Omit and close space
Dollar $ Substitute a space
Equal = Substitute a space
Euro Substitute a space
Exclamation point ! Substitute a space
Flat (musical)   Substitute a space
Greater than > Substitute a space
Hyphen/Minus - Substitute a space. However, if retained in a search it is automatically converted to a proximity search.
Inverted exclamation point ¡ Substitute a space
Inverted question mark ¿ Substitute a space
Less than < Substitute a space
Number sign # Omit and close space
Parentheses ( ) Omit and close space unless entering a Boolean search
Percent % Substitute a space
Period/Decimal point . Substitute a space except enter as the first period in a class number search.
Phonogram copyright Phonogram copyright Omit and close space
Plus  + Substitute a space
Plus/minus ± Substitute a space
Question mark ? Substitute a space
Quotation marks
(single or double)
Substitute a space unless enclosing multiple words in a word search to retrieve the exact sequence.
Semicolon ; Substitute a space
Slash / Substitute a space unless entering a Dewey class search; then omit and close space.
Space   Reduce multiple adjacent spaces to a single space and omit all leading and trailing spaces.
Underscore (spacing or non-spacing) _ Omit and close space