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Case Law Research: Search Tips

A guide designed for first year law students on the MU Law Library's resources for case law research.

Search Tips

1. In Bloomberg, terms and connectors searching is required; a space between terms is interpreted as an "and" connector. In Westlaw it is interpreted as an "or" connector. In Lexis Advance, how a space is interpreted depends on the other connectors that are present in the search. To be on the safe side, it is best to type out the and/or connectors and to enclose phrases in quotes in all three systems, that way you don't have to remember the variations.

2. Lexis Advance and Westlaw automatically search for pluralized versions of words but Bloomberg does not (e.g., crime - Lexis Advance and Westlaw also look for crimes). Check the "include word variations" box in Bloomberg to include pluralized forms.

3. If you want to run a terms and connectors search using only the and/or connectors in Westlaw, start your search with advanced: (e.g., advanced: trademark and infringement).

4. Enter connectors in lower case. A connector entered in upper case may be treated as a search term rather than a connector.

Connectors and Wildcards

 

Description Bloomberg Law Lexis Advance logo Westlaw Logo Examples
both terms must be present and and &
and
trademark and infringement
either term must be present or or space between words
or
car or automobile in all three systems; car automobile in WestlawNext
terms must be in same sentence s/
/s
/sent

/s
w/s
w/sent
(all of these options are read as near/25)

/s
w/s
design /s defect in all three systems (but Lexis Advance will convert this to design near/25 defect)
terms must be in same paragraph p/
/p
/para
/p
w/p
w/para
(all of these options are read as near/75)
/p
w/p
trademark /p infringement in all three systems (but Lexis Advance will convert this to trademark near/75 infringement)
terms must be within n words

/#
w/#
n/#

/#
w/#
near/#

/# breach /5 duty
terms must be within n words and in the order specified pre/#
+#
np/#

pre/#
onear/#

+# john pre/3 roberts in Bloomberg and Lexis Advance; john +3 roberts in Bloomberg or WestlawNext
exact phrase enclose in quotes enclose in quotes enclose in quotes "res judicata"
exlude a term not
and not
but not
and not %
but not
collateral and not estoppel in Bloomberg or Lexis Advance; collateral % estoppel in WestlawNext
grouping search terms ( ) ( ) ( ) (car or automobile) /p (injury or harm)
term or phrase must appear a minimum number of times atl#
atleast#
atleast# atleast# atleast6(termination)
expand root word by any number of letters !

 

!
 

! liab! would find liable or liability
permit variation for a single character * * * wom*n would find woman or women
plurals does not automatically search for plurals (but can check the "include word variations" box on search page) regular plurals (requiring the addition of an s) are searched automatically plurals and possessives are searched automatically crime would also retrieve crimes in Lexis Advance and WestlawNext
hyphenated terms if a term might be hyphenated, include all possible variations connected by or if a term might be hyphenated, include all possible variations connected by or hyphenated form retrieves all variations of compound words at-will searches for atwill, at will, or at-will in WestlawNext; must type out at-will or "at will" in Bloomberg and Lexis

Source Credit

Many thanks to Rebecca Lutkenhaus from Drake Law Library for sharing this chart.  See her full libguide here.