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Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw Search Techniques: Connectors & Wildcards

Search Tips

1. All three systems default to a natural language search if connectors are not included between terms, but all will also permit terms and connectors searching.

2. In Bloomberg Law, the conjunction connectors (AND, OR, NOT) should always be capitalized but other connectors don't have to be. In Lexis, proximity connectors utilizing a number (w/3, pre/5) should always be in lower case. The table below shows connectors in lower case except for when all caps must be used for the connector to work properly. 

3. In Bloomberg, a space between terms is interpreted as an AND connector. In Westlaw it is interpreted as an OR connector. In Lexis, 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.

4. When you enter the singular form of a noun, Lexis and Westlaw automatically search for the singular, plural, and possessive forms of that term but Bloomberg does not (e.g., crime - Lexis and Westlaw also look for crimes). Use the root expander symbol to capture both singular and plural forms in Bloomberg (e.g. crime!).

5. 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).

6. In Lexis, the w/s connector is converted to w/25 and the w/p connector is converted to w/75.

Connectors and Wildcards

Description Bloomberg Law logo Lexis + logo Westlaw Edge logo Examples
both terms must be present AND and &
trademark AND infringement
either term must be present OR or space
car OR automobile in all three systems; car automobile in Westlaw
terms must be in same sentence /s
design /s defect in all three systems
terms must be in same paragraph /p
trademark /p infringement in all three systems
terms must be within specified number of words /#
breach /5 duty
terms must be within specified number of words and in the order specified np/#


+# john pre/3 roberts in Bloomberg and Lexis Advance; john +3 roberts in Bloomberg or Westlaw
exact phrase enclose in quotes enclose in quotes enclose in quotes "res judicata"
exlude a term NOT
and not %
but not
collateral AND NOT estoppel in Bloomberg or Lexis Advance; collateral % estoppel in Westlaw
grouping search terms ( ) ( ) ( ) (car OR automobile) /p (injury OR harm)
term or phrase must appear a minimum number of times atl#
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 (use root expander to search for alternate endings) 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 Westlaw
hyphenated terms hyphenated form may not retrieve all variations, use a proximity connector instead hyphenated form may not retrieve all variations, use a proximity connector instead hyphenated form retrieves all variations of compound words at-will searches for atwill, at will, or at-will in Westlaw; use at pre/2 will in Bloomberg or Lexis

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