Improve your search results

Ensure you are getting the most out of vLex by understanding the search features.

The best way to improve your search results is to understand how the search engine works.

How does vLex searching work?

vLex combines three processes to find and show you results. These three steps are not a linear process, and are happening in seconds behind the scenes to find you the best results:

  • Crawling: algorithms find documents and search within them for links and citations.

  • Indexing: documents are analysed and put into an indexed database that vLex knows how to quickly search across.

  • Ranking: vLex creates a ranking of the most relevant documents. This ranking improves over time with your continued use of the service.

When you use the simple search, the advanced search or the filters, vLex compares what you type with what is in the database and shows you the documents that are most relevant to your search terms and filters.

For example, when you type Copyright law, vLex explores the index and shows you all the documents that contain those two words, in any order, together or separate. However, the top results will be those that have proven to be the most relevant for people who have previously run the same search.

Mistakenly searching for copyrigt will not return any results, because the spelling mistake means that it won't find any matches in the index.

You can direct the search engine to give you better results by using Boolean operators. These are shortcuts you can use to make specific requests of the search engine. For example, using "copyright law" in quotation marks will mean that vLex only searches for those two words together, in that order. Using "copyright law" AND NOT music will tell the search engine to remove all the results that include the word music. These operators work everywhere across vLex.

A detailed explanation of these operators can be found in the Boolean operators article.

However, you don't have to learn to use these operators. If you go to Advanced search, you will see the Words fields serve the same function. For the example above, putting copyright law in The exact phrase and music in None of the words will yield the same results.

Top tips:

  • Start with a simple selection of words when using the search bar. If you receive too many results, you can use filters and add words to narrow them down on the Results page.

  • Try to use words that your documents might include, and try to imagine what your search results might describe. For example, searching for "London underground" would be better than searching for "London tube". People understand both, but the former is the term most likely to be used in legal documents.

  • The Words fields in Advanced search are optional, feel free to leave them blank.


There are many different options for searching.

You can use any of the three methods listed below to get to the same search results. For example, if you want your search results to show copyright law, but not mention the word music, you can:

  • Type in the simple search bar: "copyright law" AND NOT music and then click the Case law filter on the Results page.

  • Use the Advanced search and choose Case law as content type, type copyright law in The exact phrase field and music in the None of the words field.

  • Select Case law in Browse, and then type "copyright law" AND NOT music in the Search in results field.

The results you get are not static, and you can always add to or subtract from a search to improve your results. Using the previous example, you could start by just typing in copyright law to the search bar, and then decide to put it in quotation marks if you can see that not all of your results relate to copyright law. After that, if you think too many results are related to music, and that isn't relevant to you, you can add something additional, such as AND NOT music in the top search bar, or the Search in results filter on the results page, to improve your results.

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