The Lesson
The greatest common factor of two or more terms in algebra can be found. Imagine we wanted to find the greatest common factor of the two terms shown below:How to Find the Greatest Common Factor in Algebra
Finding the greatest common factor in algebra is easy.Question
What is the greatest common factor of the terms shown below?StepbyStep:
1
Look at the number that appears in both terms.
Read more about finding the greatest common factor of a number
2 x^{2}y^{2}, 4 xy^{3}
Find the greatest common factor of these numbers. In our example, the greatest common factor of 2 and 4 is 2.Read more about finding the greatest common factor of a number
2
Look at the letters (and/or brackets) that appear in both terms. In our example, x and y appear in both terms.
For each letter that appears in both terms, find the letter with the smallest exponent.

Look at the x terms.
2 x^{2} y^{2}, 4 x y^{3}x has the smallest exponent. (x has an implicit exponent of 1 (x = x^{1}), whereas x^{2} has an exponent of 2).

Look at the y terms.
2x^{2} y^{2} , 4x y^{3}y^{2} has the smallest exponent. (y^{2} has an exponent of 2, whereas y^{3} has an exponent of 3).
3
Write the terms found in the previous Steps next to each other.