When you type a place name or address into the what3words website or app, information is pulled from Google Maps, so the location you see is where Google Maps thinks that place is, based on its geocoding database.

Google Maps is sometimes wrong, and often isn’t very accurate – that’s why what3words exists! That initial search should have got you to the right area, but in most cases you will want to use what3words to improve on the accuracy, by picking the correct 3 metre square.

To do this, move the map and zoom in until you can see the grid, then tap the exact square you need e.g. the exact building entrance. Switching to satellite mode will help you see more detail. Once you’ve tapped the correct square, the what3words address will display at the top of your screen.

More about geocoding

The process of converting a street address into a single point (lat, long) on a map is called geocoding. Regular street addresses typed into search bars drop a pin in different places on different maps, depending on the quality and accuracy of the map’s geocoding database.

A what3words address is far more reliable. It always points to the same exact 3 metre square in the world.

For more in-depth information on geocoding, see this excellent Guardian article written by our former CTO, Gary Gale.

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