University of Wisconsin–Madison

HeinOnline Search Tips

From law journals to the Federal Register, HeinOnline offers an outstanding selection of resources in PDF format.  If you have a specific citation to locate, HeinOnline is easy and intuitive to use.  When it comes to search queries however, the Hein syntax differs from other legal databases such as Lexis and Westlaw.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when developing HeinOnline search strategies:

  • Place phrases in quotes, for example "credit swap default".
  • Rememeber to capitalize Boolean operators between words (AND, OR, NOT): "credit swap default" AND derivatives.
  • For wildcard searches use the * symbol.  If searching for test or testing or tests, simply use test*.   Te*t will retrieve the words text or test.
  • The command for proximity searching is somewhat unusual.  Put terms in quotation marks followed by the tilde ~ sign and a number. For example:  "law schools"~3 will search for the word law within three words of schools.
  •  A feature unique to Hein allows you to boost a term for relevancy ranking within your results.  Adding the caret ^ symbol after a term with a boost factor number brings those terms to the top of the results list.  For example, taser^5"stun gun" will make documents with the term taser appear before documents with the phrase stun gun.
  • You can also specify fields instead of default fields.  Fields in HeinOnline are specific to the type of resource you are searching and will be listed on each library's search page.
  • Consult the HeinOnline search tab which is prominently displayed in the top left corner of the screen. Take a moment to read the "About Searching" information -- it can really make a difference when using this powerful database.     

Submitted by Cheryl O'Connor on November 19, 2009

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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