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Using Natural Language

When you search using the natural language feature (formerly called the FREESTYLE™ feature), you can enter a search in plain English, without having to use any special terms and connectors. The natural language feature's document relevance ranking gives you quick access to the most pertinent documents in your search results. A typical search with natural language might be:

Under what circumstances can biological parents regain custody of adopted children after an adoption?

Note: Wildcard characters such as ! or * are not valid in natural language searches.

The natural language feature works best when you
  • Need to research general or conceptual issues, rather than very specific topics
  • Don't know much about an issue except for a few basic terms
  • Are researching a complex issue and can't construct an effective search using terms and connectors
  • Don't feel comfortable writing search requests using terms and connectors
  • Want to supplement a terms and connectors search to ensure thorough results
Developing a Natural Language Search

To develop a natural language search, use terms that you might use when describing your research topic to another person. Then use the natural language options (listed below) to enhance the search.

To find articles about efforts in the fast food industry to use recyclable packaging, you might use this search:

What efforts has the fast food industry made to use recyclable packages?

Or, you can use just the most important terms and phrases, in any order.

recycle package fast food

To find all the articles within an issue of a specific publication, simply enter the volume and issue number separated by a dash as shown below:

To view all articles within Volume 7, Issue # 8 in Mealey''s Litigation Report: Insurance, select the publication from the drop down menu and type 7-8 in the article search box.

Natural Language Options

The natural language feature offers the following ways for you to enhance and refine your search. All are available from the Natural Language search form.

  • Phrases
    The natural language feature automatically checks your search for legal, technical, medical, and other common phrases. You can also easily create your own phrases when you enter your search by enclosing the words you want considered as a phrase in quotes. If you want to ensure that adjacent words are not evaluated as a phrase, separate them with a comma.

  • Synonyms
    Place synonyms immediately after the search term they apply to. Enclose them in parentheses and separate multiple synonyms with a comma:

    Under what circumstances can biological (natural) parents regain custody of an adopted child (minor, infant)?

    Synonym tips:

    • Synonyms can add value to your results, but use them carefully. Using many synonyms reduces the importance of each, and your results may not be as on target as you'd like.

    • If you use synonyms for a mandatory term, the LexisNexis™ research services retrieve documents containing either the mandatory term or at least one of its synonyms (similar to using the OR connector).

  • Restrictions
    You can restrict your natural language search to specific documents, such as those issued on a certain date, or from a certain court.

  • Terms/Concepts
    You can add synonyms, word variations, and other terms or phrases to your search. To select from a list of words or concepts related to your search terms, click "Suggest Words and Concepts for Entered Terms" on the Natural Language search form.
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