Deborah Letz / October 17, 2012

Fastcase Research Tip: Use proximity operators for more precise results

While in Keyword (Boolean) search, you can use multiple proximity (“within”) operators to fine-tune your search.

Here’s an example:

If I’m looking for cases in all jurisdictions involving the constitutionality of a search of curtilage and would like the cases to mention the word warrant or a form of warrant, I could run a search like this:

constitution* AND curtilage AND search* AND warrant*

However, that search returns 1,000+ results and the terms could be anywhere within the opinion.

If I want cases that discuss these keywords close together, I can narrow down my search by using the proximity operator. When I do this, the terms will be within several words of each other. To use the proximity operator, simply put a w/ or just a / and a number between 2 and 50 between the words you want to be close to each other. In this case, I want the terms to be within 25 words of each other. Here’s my new search:

constitution* w/25 search* w/25 curtilage w/25 warrant*

This search, even across all jurisdictions, gives me 299 results, which is a lot easier to review than 1,000!

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