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Search Strategies: Westlaw Precision, Lexis+, Bloomberg Law: Constructing Searches

A guide to searching three major legal research platforms

Database Help

If you need additional assistance navigating these databases, check out their help centers.

Westlaw Precision

  • Training, Support & Live Chat accessible at the bottom of the page
  • Call 1-800-REF-ATTY (1-800-733-2889)


  • Help accessible from top of the page
  • Call 1-800-543-6862

Bloomberg Law

  • Help Desk accessible from the bottom of the page
  • Call 1-888-560-2529
  • Email

Constructing Searches: Connectors & Wildcards

Boolean Operators
Description Westlaw Lexis Bloomberg Examples

results with both terms

&, and and* and assault & battery (W), assault and battery (W, L, B)
results with either term or, space b/t words or** or assault or battery (W, L, B), assault battery (W)

exclude term

%, but not and not and not, but not assault % battery (W), assault but not battery (W, B), assault and not battery (L, B)

* The Lexis search algorithm will recognize certain search strings as phrases, rather than a search command. Thus 'assault and battery' is treated as a phrase in Lexis, rather than a command to search for results with both the words 'assault' and 'battery,' so you get results with 'assault and battery,' 'assault,' and 'battery.'

** The Lexis search algorithm will recognize a space between words as an 'or' only when no other connectors are used in the search; so 'tort and assault battery' would bring back different results than 'tort assault battery.'

Proximity Search Commands
Description Westlaw Lexis Bloomberg Examples
within the same sentence /s, w/s w/sent, w/s, /s* s/, /s, /sent assault /s battery (W, L, B), assault w/s battery (W, L), assault w/sent battery (L, B), assault s/ battery (B)
within the same paragraph /p, w/p w/para, w/p, /p* p/, /p, /para assault /p battery, (W, L, B), assaulty w/p battery (W, L), assault w/para battery (L, B), assault p/ battery (B)
within n words /n near/n /n, w/n assault /5 battery (W, B), assault near/5 battery (L), assault w/5 battery (B)
within n words and in designated order +n pre/n +n, pre/n assault +7 battery (W, B), assault pre/5 battery (L, B)
phrase searching within quotes within quotes within quotes, space between words "collateral estoppel" (W, L, B), collateral estoppel (B)
grouping terms within parentheses within parentheses within parantheses (assault and battery) /s (dog and bite)
term frequency in results atleastn [doesn't support] atln, atleastn atleast5(assault) (W, B), atl5(assault) (B)

* The sentence and paragraph parameters in Lexis are treated numerically. Thus, any of the sentence proximity commands are treated as near/15, and any of the paragraph proximity commands are treated as near/50.

Word Variants
Description Westlaw Lexis Bloomberg Examples
root expander ! !, * ! constitut! finds results with  constitute, constituting, constituted, constitution, constitutions, constitutional, etc. (W, L, B); constitut* does the same (L)
single character variation * *, ? * wom*n brings back results with woman and women (W, L, B); wom?n does the same (L)
singular v. plural forms searched automatically regular plurals searched automatically must check the "include word variations" box on search page automatic (W, L*), check the box in B
hyphenated terms searching as a hyphenated will automatically search any form searching as a hyphenated will automatically search any form must search both hyphenated and unhyphenated, connected by 'or' wi-fi will automatically search for wi-fi and wifi (W, L), must search both in B ('wi-fi' or wifi')

* Lexis automatically searches for plurals indicated by an -s (dogs, cats), but irregular plurals (children, women) have to be searched separately (ex: 'woman or women')

(Inspiration for these tables came from a research guide at Drake Law.)