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Law Library

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

A guide to searching three major legal research platforms

Distinguishing Features

Research Map

In addition to saving your search history for 90 days, Lexis+ has created a Research Map that allows you to not only recall what you have recently searched, but also compare those searches and their results. This allows you to see, for instance, overlapping results in each search. Lexis+ additionally will help you to find similar documents to the search you ran.

To access the Research Map, click on History > Research Map.

Shepard's quick access

If you want to Shepardize something (pull up the citator report), search normally and then click the Shepardize this document link in the toolbar to the right of the document.


To Shepardize a document search for shep: followed by your search. Alternatively, search for a document as normal, and click the Shepard's signal indicator or links in the Shephard's box on the right side of a document screen.

Citing decisions are accompanied by information indicating the type of analysis and depth of discussion. Results may be filtered by analysis, date, headnote, or source.

Citation Signals
Signal Meaning Definition Example
Red stop sign Warning Strong negative treatment or history. Overruled or Reversed
Red exclamation mark Warning Strong negative treatment of a statute section. Unconstitutional or Void
Orange Q Questioned Questions validity, because of intervening circumstances. Overruled
Yellow triangle Caution Possible negative treatment. Limited or Criticized
Green diamond Positive Positive treatment. Affirmed or Followed
Blue A Analysis Neither positive or negative treatment. Explained
Blue I Citation No treatment or reference. Law review citations

Basic Search

Lexis Plus Search Bar

In Lexis+, basic searching is done from the main search bar. Advanced Search options are available by selecting the link directly below the search box. To see what terms and connectors you can use in Lexis Advance, you can click on the Tips link below the search box, or see the last page of this research guide, Constructing Searches.

Pre-search filter options are available by clicking the Search: Everything drop-down menu: 

  • Jurisdiction
  • Category (cases, legislation, secondary, etc.)
  • Practice Areas & Topics
  • Recents & Favorites

These filters can also be applied to your search results; post-search you will be presented with even more filtering options, such as date.


As an alternate to beginning your research with a keyword search, Lexis+ offers several options for browsing their content, accessible from the drop-down Browse menu at the top of the page.

Browse Topics

The Browse Topics tab presents you with a list of legal topics, such as Administrative Law and Insurance Law. Clicking on one of these topics will bring you to a list of sub-topics. Does the topic you seek not appear in this list? There is a small search box where you can search topics. If you search for a topic that is not in the original list, the results will show where your topic falls as a sub-topic within the original list.

Once you reach the sub-topics (many of which are further broken down), clicking on a topic will bring up a box with the option to Get Topic Documents, Add Topic to Search, Favorite this Topic, or Create an Alert. Topic Documents will bring up any documents in Lexis Advance associated with that topic; these results will be organized the same way that keyword results appear. If you add the topic to your search, it will show up below the main search bar as a pre-filter, the same way filtering by jurisdiction or content type would. Adding a topic to your favorites will give you quick access to it to add it to a search in the future - your favorites live below the main search bar.

Browse Sources

If you're looking for a specific source, this browse feature is the way to go. Within this tab, there is a small search box to Search Sources. You can also narrow by content type and jurisdiction, and the sources are listed alphabetically.