Search Like a Pro with These Nexis Search Pro Tips
03 February 2023 15:00
Imagine you’re on the Nexis® home page. Your cursor is on the search bar, and you know that typing in a single word or phrase will execute a search across a vast collection of data—from news archives and company details to biographical information, legal records, and social media content. But with so much data at your fingertips, how can you be sure your search efforts are delivering the most relevant results?
Luckily, you can use these seven pro tips to hone your search skills and better navigate your way to the content you need. Check out the webinar recording for step by step guidance on these tips.
Pro tip #1: Utilize “connections” to establish context.
By using connector words in your searches, you can convey relationships between the words that make up your search term. For example, using the connector “AND” links words or phrases that must appear together in the same document, no matter how close or far apart.
So, searching with the phrase “bank AND deregulate” will return content which only contains both words. And that’s only one example. You can download and print this list of connectors for easy reference.
Pro tip #2: Use proximity connectors to make it easier to find what you're looking for.
Use proximity connectors to return results where your search terms are within a defined number of words from each other.
Use w/s or w/p to find terms that are in the same sentence w/s or same paragraph w/p. For example: "airline w/s merger", your results will provide these terms with either term first, these connectors do not specify word order.
You can use the pre/n command to define the order that your search terms are found. This can be critical for searching names. For example, Bill pre/3 George will find Bill within 3 words of George and Bill has to be written in the document first.
Pro tip #3: Account for potential misspellings and alternate spellings.
When entering a search phrase, you can use up to seven question marks (?) to replace a letter in a word, as long as it’s not the first letter.
Think of a question mark as the blank tile in Scrabble®. A search using “Bernst??n” will return content that contains words like Bernstein, Bernstien, and Bernstown.
You can also use an exclamation point (!) or asterisk (*) to replace an infinite number of letters following a word root. Let’s say you wanted to conduct a broad search into news archives for stories regarding insurance. A search using “insur!” would return content which contains words like insure, insured, insurance, insuring, and so on.
Pro tip #4: Search with precision.
You can increase the accuracy of your search results by using precision search commands. These are commands that tell Nexis exactly how to read and apply your search terms across documents.
The use of quotation marks (“”) is one such precision search command technique. If you want to find an exact phrase, put it in quotation marks. Nexis will return content that only contains that phrase in its entirety. Searching “Bank of America”, for example, returns content containing that exact phrase.
Pro tip #5: Construct your searches with command terms.
For most precision search commands, you’ll format the search as “command(search term)”. To give you an idea of how this structure works, here’s a closer look at one of the most common precision search commands:
Say you wanted to find articles in our news archives database regarding the Equal Rights Amendment. The “ALLCAPS” command retrieves articles in which all letters of your search term are capitalized. This is especially helpful when researching acronyms.
As an example, you could format your search as follows: allcaps(era). This would search all news content for articles that contained the acronym ERA, including news documents detailing the Equal Rights Amendment. But just remember that this particular search would return all instances of the ERA acronym, so articles that include the same abbreviation for a term like “earned run average” would also appear in your results.
The “ALLCAPS” command is just one of many others you can use on the Nexis search home page to easily refine your results.
Additional command examples:
- allcaps(era) = ERA and Equal Rights Amendment
- nocaps(era) = a period in history
- caps(era) = detergent (1 letter capitalized)
Pro tip #6: Search specific elements of content (as opposed to entire documents).
The data you can search in Nexis is segmented. In other words, documents and other forms of content contain within them searchable element types.
These segments within the content work just like descriptors or fields. Along with particular words or phrases, you can include segments in your searches by using connectors. (That brings us back to pro tip #1!)
There are many segments you can add to your searches, including the BODY segment, which searches the main body of document for your search phrase, and LEAD. When using the LEAD segment in your search, you’re instructing Nexis to rule out any document which doesn’t contain your search term in the lead paragraph.
Additional segment examples:
- hlead(sugar w/10 tax) and soda
- byline(mike isaac) and publication(new york times)
- terms(drone) and delivery
Pro tip #7: Search by topic—not just specific words or phrases.
When you conduct a Nexis search, you’re not just restricted to finding information based on the mere mention of specific words and phrases. Our SmartIndexing Technology™ tags news, business, and legislative documents with the topics discussed within them. This means you can discover relevant content on companies, industries, people, locations, and more whether or not they’re explicitly mentioned in a document.
You can find a couple of SmartIndexing commands here, along with an easy-to-reference list of other commands and tips to get you started. Try out these pro tips the next time you search content on the Nexis platform. You might just be impressed with the results—literally!
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