Improving Your Search Results in Lexis and Westlaw with Term Frequency

June 20, 2008

If you are searching cases and want to limit your results to those documents that mention your terms a number of times, try using the term frequency features in Lexis and Westlaw. 

The Lexis field restrictor atleast requires that your terms appear a minimum number of times in a document.  The following search will retrieve cases that mention the phrase “bad faith” five times: atleast5(bad faith).

For Westlaw, put your search terms in the search box and click on the Term Frequency button to the right of the search box.  A list of your search terms is displayed, each with a drop-down box listing an at least number.  Select the terms you want to restrict and the corresponding numbers.  Click here for Westlaw Term Frequency instructions and a screen shot.

At this time, you’ll only find Westlaw’s Term Frequency button in case law, news and secondary sources.  It’s not available in statutes, administrative codes, public records or pretrial documents such as briefs or pleadings.

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