Tuesday's CALR tip on printing just the case or statute prompted the question of whether you can search just the text of a statutory code without also searching all the case annotations, secondary source citations, and other editorial enhancements. The default search on both Westlaw and LexisNexis is to search the annotated code, including all the editorial enhancements. But it is possible to search just the unannotated code, which limits the documents retrieved to statutory sections in which your search terms appear in the statute itself.
Frequently it is helpful to run your search in the annotated code. The legislature may not have used the same terms when it drafted the statute as the terms you use to search for the statute. If you search the annotated code, and a case annotation about a statutory section includes your terms, you will still retrieve the statutory section cited by the case even if your terms do not appear in the statute itself.
However, if your search retrieves too many results because your search terms appear in annotations for many statutory sections, it may be helpful to run your search in just the substantive text of the statute itself. A search of the unannotated code will retrieve only the statutory sections in which your search terms appear in the statutory language.
On Westlaw, in order to search just the statute itself you must use Fields to limit your search. After you choose a statutory code as your database, your search screen will include a list of searchable Fields for that code. Scroll down and double-click on Substantive-doc near the end of the list. Westlaw will add "SD()" to the search box. Put the search terms you want to appear in statutory language within the parentheses. If you remember that SD is the abbreviation for the Substantive-doc Field, you can save time by keying "SD(your search terms)" directly into the search box.
On LexisNexis, in order to search just the statute itself you must use Segments to limit your search. After you choose a statutory code as your source, your search screen will display the Table of Contents for that code. You can search the full-text of the code using the small search box at the top by clicking on the radio button for "Full-text of source documents." But to see a list of Segments, you should click on Advanced to the right of the Search button.
On the Advanced search screen for an annotated code on LexisNexis, you will see an area labeled "Restrict by Segment." Click the down arrow to the right of the "Select a Segment" menu box and choose UNANNO. In the text box to the right of the Segment menu, which should now display UNANNO, enter at least one search term, then click on the Add button or press Enter. LexisNexis will display "UNANNO (search terms)" in the search box. Click the Search button to run the search. If you remember that UNANNO is the abbreviation for the unannotated Segment, you can save time by keying "UNANNO (your search terms)" directly into the Full-text search box at the top of the Table of Contents screen.
Previous Research Tips:
Topic and Key Number Searches on Westlaw
Searching Is Not Research
Don't Get Caught Without a Search Engine