Use the new Find command for more accurate citation searches

October 15, 2010

Q&AHere’s a WestlawNext question we recently received from a law librarian.

Q:  I often need to find one specific document during my WestlawNext sessions. But sometimes when I type a citation and click Search, I retrieve a bunch of cases, statutes, regulations, law reviews, and other documents – not just one. In fact, sometimes the document I cited isn’t even on the list! What happened?

A: If your citation search is not recognized as such by WestlawNext, it runs as a standard WestlawNext search, which means the components of your citation are treated as search terms. To prevent this from happening, type the new Find command (fi: or find: ) in front of your citation, e.g., fi: 101 sct 1.

If the citation is recognized, you can retrieve the document just as you would have without the Find command. If the citation is not recognized, no search is run, and you get this message: “We were unable to find the document you’re looking for.”

When searching for multiple citations separated by semicolons, you need only type the Find command once – for example, fi: 101 sct 1; 26 usca 1221. (Note: If WestlawNext does not recognize one of the citations in a string of multiple citations, documents with recognized citations will be retrieved, but the “We were unable to find…” message does not appear for the unrecognized citations.)