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LGL 125: Legal Research (AL): Search Techniques

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Natural Language Searching

This is a basic search where you enter your terms in the search box, and LexisNexis uses an algorithm to return the best documents based on your terms and how often they appear.

You can use quotation marks to indicate phrases:  "charitable trust"

Boolean Searching with Connectors

Boolean searching, with connectors, allows you to do a more powerful, sophisticated search than a natural language search.  You can, for example, control how closely words appear to each other and use synonyms.


AND - finds documents that contain all the terms.  
            Example:  chocolate AND football AND virginia

OR - finds documents where any of the terms appear.  
          Example:  lawyer OR attorney

W/n - finds documents where terms appear within a certain number of words of each other.  
           Example:  dog w/5 cruelty

AND NOT - finds documents that do not include certain terms.  
                     Example:  bank AND NOT deregulate

W/S - finds documents with terms in the same sentence.

W/P - finds documents with terms in the same paragraph.

W/seg - finds documents with terms in the same segment.

Word Variations


Use an exclamation point (!) to replace more than one letter at the end of a word:
     disab! = disability, disabilities, disable, disabled, disabling



Use an asterisk (*) to replace one letter in a word.  It can be used more than once within a word:  
     lab**r = labor, labour  (this will also find words like elaborately)
     wom*n = woman, women

Search Within Document Sections

LexisNexis breaks documents -- cases, regulations, law reviews -- into sections called Segments.

The types of Segments vary by document.  For example,

  • Case Segments include:  Headnotes, Judges, Opinion, Outcome, Overview
  • Statute and Regulation Segments include:  Heading, Section


You will find these Segments listed under "Advanced Options":

advanced search segments

You can choose to search for selected words only in certain Segments of the document.

How Results Are Displayed

LexisNexis can display your list of results in several different ways.  By:

  • Date (either the most recent first or the oldest first)
  • Source (e.g., by court)
  • Relevance (best matches first)

Choose how to display your results from the Sort dropdown menu.

results order options