Home / functions.php / Limit search to post titles only
  • How to Limit search to post titles only


    Adding this snippet to the functions.php of your wordpress theme will limit search to post titles only.

    ( click code to copy )

    wordpress snippet : PHP

    function __search_by_title_only( $search, &$wp_query )
        global $wpdb;
        if ( empty( $search ) )
            return $search; // skip processing - no search term in query
        $q = $wp_query->query_vars;
        $n = ! empty( $q['exact'] ) ? '' : '%';
        $search =
        $searchand = '';
        foreach ( (array) $q['search_terms'] as $term ) {
            $term = esc_sql( like_escape( $term ) );
            $search .= "{$searchand}($wpdb->posts.post_title LIKE '{$n}{$term}{$n}')";
            $searchand = ' AND ';
        if ( ! empty( $search ) ) {
            $search = " AND ({$search}) ";
            if ( ! is_user_logged_in() )
                $search .= " AND ($wpdb->posts.post_password = '') ";
        return $search;
    add_filter( 'posts_search', '__search_by_title_only', 500, 2 );

    ( WordPress codex functions, hooks, in this snippet. )

    posts_search, query, query_vars, is_user_logged_in, add_filter, esc_sql, __, _e, wp,
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  • davidsky

    doesn’t work! :(

    • what version of wordpress are you currently running? I test everything to make sure it works before I post a snippet. Ill take a look at this again just to make sure.

      • davidsky


        this is the output of $search:

        AND ( AND (((wpmtx_posts.post_title LIKE ‘%alice%’) OR
        (wpmtx_posts.post_content LIKE ‘%alice%’)) AND ((wpmtx_posts.post_title
        LIKE ‘%cooper%’) OR (wpmtx_posts.post_content LIKE ‘%cooper%’)))
        (.post_title LIKE ‘%alice%’) AND (.post_title LIKE ‘%cooper%’) OR
        (.post_title LIKE ‘%alice cooper%’))

        • made a small update see if that fixes things,

        • davidsky

          Yes! Now works! Thanks you very much!!!

      • davidsky


        this is the output of $search:

        AND ( AND (((wpmtx_posts.post_title LIKE ‘%alice%’) OR
        (wpmtx_posts.post_content LIKE ‘%alice%’)) AND ((wpmtx_posts.post_title
        LIKE ‘%cooper%’) OR (wpmtx_posts.post_content LIKE ‘%cooper%’)))
        (.post_title LIKE ‘%alice%’) AND (.post_title LIKE ‘%cooper%’) OR
        (.post_title LIKE ‘%alice cooper%’))

  • This is great! Something I’d like to see is a search tweak that limits the results to titles and tags. That way I have the freedom to title my posts whatever I want without worrying about needing to include keyword search terms. 

    • Glad to hear you like the snippet! If you are going to take things that far tags, etc, I would look into the plugin “search everything” it has a lot of options that you can configure.

  • Seth

    Great code! This really cleans up the wordpress search.  Is there a way to include the first X words of the post? Maybe with the substr function?
    $content = get_the_content();
    $content = strip_tags($content);
    echo substr($content, 0, 50);

    • In your search results template you could trim the amount of text displayed on use the excerpt template tag for a shorter result without any hacking.

  • Matt

    I’m new (aka “I suck”) at both PHP and WordPress.  Do I just drop this code in arbitrarily or is there a specific place where it needs to go or replace some code that’s already there?

    I put this at the bottom of the functions.php page and my screen was white, so I removed it.

    • Matt

      Ok, I was adding this to the WordPress functions.php file and not the theme one.  It works like a charm.

  • Web Php 03

    Thnx Kevin … exactly the code i was looking for …

  • steve

    Hey Mister!
    you rule man, thanx alot

  • disqus_JuU9dzgzNc

    This is great! I have 2 search forms on my website. Is it possible to only apply this function to 1 of the search forms

  • Satyaki

    That was truly awesome.
    You just solved my problem with the least bit effort from my side.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Silver City

    This is awesome… I’m wondering how to add this code to back-end search. I want title-wise search for wp back-end too.. :)

    Thank you! :)

  • MR_ShockWave

    I don’t understand much of PHP, do I need to put something after and before that code?

  • add_filter( ‘posts_search’, ‘__search_by_title_only’, 500, 2 );
    2 params 500, 2. What is mean ?

  • code: add_filter( ‘posts_search’, ‘__search_by_title_only’, 500, 2 );

    2 params: 500, 2 . What is mean ?

  • Picer

    This is really nice! Thank you!