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Boolean Logic/Using Terms and Connectors when Searching Online for Legal Documents


Connectors are symbols that indicate the relationships between the terms.  Each Computer Assisted Legal Research System (CALR) will use different symbols to define these relationships between the terms . Always make sure you are familiar with the various options available to you!

  1. BASIC connectors> AND, OR, NOT. The "or" connector will generally retrieve the largest result set.  The search engine will now try to  to find every document that contains at least one of your listed terms. The and connector will at least retrieve only document that contains both words.
  2. PROXIMITY connectors> /n (within certain numbers of)  or  /s (same sentence) and /p (same aparagaph) . Liability /3 limited would retrieve both  limited liability and  liability was limited.
  3. Nesting > ( ). When you add parentheses to your search then terms in the parentheses be searched first and then treated as a unit.  Great tool. This option requires that the terms in the parentheses be searched first and then treated as a unit.  This is known as ‘nesting’.  If you use this, keep it simple.
  4. Phrase searching > " " (Using quotes). Great tool when you are searching for specific legal terms or words >“limited liability”.
  5. Root expander > !. A root word may have many endings. Drunk! retrieves > drunk, drunken, and drunkard. Be careful not to truncate your root term too severely.  depo! retrieves not only forms of deposition, but also deposit, depositor, deposited,  deport, deportation, etc.
  6. Wildcat option > *. (Asterisk) . Dr*nk  retrieves drank, drink, and drunk. S****holder retrieves both shareholder and stockholder. The universal character can be used at the end of a term to specify how many letters may be added. Example: object** would retrieve object, objects, and objected but not objective.

Combining Connectors > (fraud or theft or breach) and Erisa. You can use * (the asterick) and and ! (root expander) together. > dr*nk! retrieves drank, drink, drinkable, drunk, drinking, drunken, and  drunkard.