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Westlaw New Zealand - Boolean Terms and Connectors 

Last Published: August 26, 2020

Using Terms and Connectors on Westlaw

A Boolean Terms and Connectors search allows you to create a query using keywords and connectors that specify the relationship between those words. 

  1. When you type a query into the Global search bar that contains a field restriction, proximity connector, or expander (+, %, !), your search will automatically process as a Boolean Terms and Connectors query. The default search term when you leave a space between words is an OR, meaning this will expand your search results. 
  2. A list of the connectors and expanders can be found by selecting Search Tips from the homepage 
  3. A list of the connectors and expanders will also be displayed on the right of the advanced search template. 

Boolean Search Terms and Connectors 

AND (&)   

Results displayed will be documents where all those words exist, in any order, and not necessarily together e.g., trade & mark & registration. 


Or is the default search setting in Westlaw. The “or” operator is always processed before the others (even if it isn’t the first search operator you’ve entered) e.g., For example: car vehicle automobile conveyance 

Root expander (!) 

To search for words with multiple endings, use the root expander also known as a Multiple Character Wildcard.

Use this to search for terms with multiple endings.  Insert the exclamation mark where the word begins to change. e.g., object! will retrieve object, objects, objected, objection, objecting, objector…. 

Universal character (*) 

To search for words with variable characters, use the universal character (*), e.g., type withdr*w to retrieve withdraw and withdrew. 

Phrase (" ") 


Phrase search terms appear in the exact order as in the quotation marks, and plurals will automatically also be found, e.g., "fiduciary duty" will deliver fiduciary duties.    

If you prefer to search only for the exact term you have entered, place a hash symbol at the beginning of the term, e.g., "fiduciary #duty" 

Grammatical connectors 









In addition to choosing terms for your query, you must also choose proximity connectors to specify the relationships between your search terms. 


/s the search terms must appear in the same sentence, e.g., drone /s privacy finds drone within the same sentence as privacy, in any order

+s the first search term must precede the second term in the same sentence, e.g.,drone +s privacy finds drone within the same sentence as privacy, in the same order

/p the search terms must appear in the same paragraph, e.g., drone /p privacy finds drone within the same paragraph, in any order

+p the first search term must be found in the same paragraph in the order they are written, e.g., drone +p privacy – finds drone with the same paragraph as privacy in the same order

Numerical connectors 





/n the search terms must appear within n terms of each other, where n is a number from 1 to 255, e.g., drone /15 privacy finds drone within 15 words of privacy, in any order) 

+n the first search term must precede the second term by n terms, where n is a number from 1 to 255,e.g.,drone +20 privacy – finds drone within 20 words of privacy, in same order

BUT NOT connector (%) 

Westlaw excludes everything that follows the BUT NOT (%) connector in your search

e.g.,  "king salmon" % "marlborough sounds" otago

Will retrieve documents having the phrase “King Salmon” but exclude any documents having the words Marlborough sounds, or Otago

Prefix to turn off plurals and equivalents


To search for a word exactly as you typed it, use the hash symbol (#)

Turns off automatic equivalents e.g., type #damage to retrieve damage but not damages. 


Turns off plurals eg “probable #consequence” – will find “probable consequence” but not “probable consequences”

Automatic Equivalents

Judgment = judgement

2nd = second

Sat = Saturday

Wed = Wednesday

Noise Words

Words that are too common to be searched (as, an, that..) are not usually included.  If you wish to include it, use # or quotes or a hyphen

Hyphenated Words

Hyphenate a word to find the word as one word, two words or hyphenated, good-will will retrieve goodwill, good will or good-will
Order of Processing

( )     “ ”     OR     +N     /N     +S     /S     +P     /P     &     %

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