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Nexis’s Keyboard Commands For Easy, Optimized Searches

November 30, 2023 (6 min read)
These search commands make searching with Nexis easy and efficient.

Searching databases might seem simple, but if you’re not up-to-date on commands, you might be falling way behind. Nexis® is already revolutionizing the way searches are conducted online, from offering unparalleled databases to building out automatic portfolios and alerts. However, if you’re unaware of the plethora of search tricks, you might not be getting the most you can out of your Nexis subscription.

While some of these commands are applicable to other search engines like Google, there are also a few Nexis-specific tips to be aware of. Read on for all the information you need to optimize your searches and improve your workflow all at once.

Pro Tip #1: Utilize “Connectors”

Use connectors — like AND and OR — to establish logical relationships between words. If connectors are not used, Nexis will use Natural Language searching. Here’s what these connectors do:

  • AND: Links words or phrases that must appear together in the same document, no matter how close or far apart. Example: bank AND deregulate
  • AND NOT: Excludes documents that contain the word or phrase following it. Use this connector with caution because it can exclude relevant documents. Always use at the end of your search. Example: (Michael W/2 jordan) AND NOT basketball OR bulls OR sports
  • OR: Words separated by OR will appear in any of the documents returned, but not necessarily in the same document. Use to link synonyms, antonyms, alternate forms of expression, etc. Broadens search results. Example: outlook OR forecast OR trend
  • PRE/N: Requires words to appear in the document, the first word must precede the second word by no more than N words. N = 1-255 Example: cable PRE/2 (television OR tv OR t.v.) It is particularly important to use the PRE/2 & W/2 connector between first and last names when researching people. Example: bill pre/2 george
  • W/N or NEAR/N or /N: Locates search terms within a certain number (N) of words of each other. Does not specify word order. Example: market W/5 share (read: market within five words of share) Or donald W/2 trump
  • W/P: Looks for documents with search words in the same paragraph; cannot be combined with the W/N. Example: airline W/P merger
  • W/S or NEAR/S or /S: Looks for documents with search words in the same sentence. Example: predict! W/S "hurricane season”

MORE: Search like a pro with these Nexis pro search tips

Pro Tip #2: Know your “Wildcards”

Wildcards is a catch-all term for punctuation you might not otherwise think to use in searches, like question marks. These keys can help expand and specify your search, making it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

  • QUESTION MARK ?: Use the ? to replace a letter in a word. You can use up to seven in the same word, anywhere in the word except as the first letter. (like the blank tile on a Scrabble® board.) Example: bernst??n = bernstein, bernstien, bernstown, etc.
  • EXCLAMATION POINT ! or ASTERISK : Use the ! or * to replace an infinite number of letters following a word root. Root word expander wildcards can only be used with 3 or more characters. Example: insur! = insure, insured, insurance, insuring, insuree, insurer

Pro Tip #3: Use precision search commands

Precision search commands increase the accuracy and efficiency of your searches by forcing the Nexis® search engine to read search terms a certain way. These commands often work against the default settings of the LexisNexis® services.

For example, by default, the LexisNexis services are not case sensitive, but by incorporating certain precision search tools (allcaps, caps and nocaps), you can force the search engine to read capitalization.

If you want to find an exact phrase, put the phrase within quotation marks. If you don’t use quotation marks, Nexis automatically finds various forms of words. Nexis will search based on the root of the word and additional forms of the word like its plural form, possessive forms, or tense, and adjectival forms without having to use a wildcard or connector in your search.

Nexis will read all terms in quotes, including terms like “the", "an", and "a"—that were not previously searched against. For example, “Bank of America” will return the exact phrase “Bank of America”.

MORE: Get the whole picture, faster

Pro Tip #4: Construct a search using specific commands

Construct your search using the following format: command (search term). Common precision search commands include:

  • ALLCAPS: Locates articles in which all letters of your search term are capitalized; especially helpful when researching acronyms. Can only be used when searching News content. Example: allcaps(era) = articles that contain the abbreviation for Equal Rights Amendment or Earned Run Average
  • CAPS: Finds instances in which at least one letter is capitalized; proves particularly useful when researching names and proper nouns. Can only be used when searching News content. Example: caps(era) = articles that contain the brand name of the detergent
  • NOCAPS: Retrieves articles in which your search term has no letters capitalized and ignores any acronyms, names and proper nouns. Can only be used when searching News content. Example: nocaps(era) = articles that contain the word era
  • ATLEASTN or ATLN: Assists with frequency searching, allowing you to retrieve only those documents that mention your search term at least a certain number (N*) of times. Example: atl10("competitive intelligence" OR ci)

Pro Tip #5: Know which segments will help you

Operating like descriptors or fields, segments are search-able parts of a document. Some of the most commonly used of the many available segments are listed here. Incorporate segments, search terms, or date restrictions using connectors as needed.

  • BODY: For articles where terms are in the story text. BODY(election)
  • BYLINE: Articles attributed to person(s) identified as the author/reporter. BYLINE( james W/2 brady)
  • HEADLINE: Articles featuring the term in headline or title. HEADLINE(seagram)
  • HLEAD: Segment combining the headline and lead paragraph. HLEAD("college playoff "AND nike)
  • LEAD: For articles where term is in lead paragraph. LEAD(candy)
  • DATE: For articles written on a particular date. DATE( jan. 22 2002) or DATE>2017
  • LENGTH: The approximate number of words in the BODY segment; arithmetically searchable. LENGTH>100
  • PUBLICATION: The name of the publication. Pub() no longer works PUBLICATION("New York Times")
  • SIC: Contains industry codes and descriptions from the Standard Industry Classification (SIC). SIC("NONCLASSIFIABLE ESTABLISHMENT")
  • PUBLICATION-TYPE: For particular types of news/stories. PUBLICATION-TYPE(Transcripts)

MORE: How to use metadata in your media monitoring

Pro Tip #6: Use LexisNexis® SmartIndexing Technology™

LexisNexis SmartIndexing Technology tags news, business, and legislative documents with the topics discussed within them. Because LexisNexis SmartIndexing Technology searches based on topic, you can find information about companies, industries, subjects, people, and locations whether or not they are explicitly mentioned in the document.

For example, search with the MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS index term and get on-point references, no matter what words the article uses to discuss mergers. No synonyms needed. Here are some other ways to use this technology:

  • TERMS: Search the LexisNexis SmartIndexing Technology terms for people names, company names, organization names, subject terms, industry terms and geographical location in an article. The Term segment replaces all other segments that were used in the past including Subject, Organization, Person, Country, Industry, and Geography TERMS(marioW/2 lemieux) AND TERMS(pittsburgh)
  • COMPANY: Search SmartIndexing Technology for articles containing the name(s) of companies discussed in the document. COMPANY(kodak)

Optimize your Nexis research with easy search commands

With these search tools, and Nexis’s one-of-a-kind database, you’ll be able to enhance your searches and find results much faster and easier than with other engines. We recommend bookmarking this page so you can return to it when you’re struggling to narrow down a specific search, and get started searching with Nexis now.