New Look For Secondary Sources On Westlaw

The Alameda County Law Library currently has access via Westlaw to a number of Thomson Reuters secondary sources for legal research.  Digital access includes some California attorney favorites – such as the Rutter Group Practice Guides (aka the California Practice Guides series.)

Westlaw has recently revamped the screen format, making enhancements and adding new features.

Changes include:

  • ability to click on plus or minus signs to expand or reduce table of contents for a document.
  • check off boxes which when used allows the researcher to restrict searching to a section or to request delivery options for that section’s text.

Initial screen for a Westlaw secondary source

On the opening screen for a title, main chapters are shown with a check off box and a plus sign to the left of the title.  The plus sign expands the listing to open up the table of contents.  The box next to it allows the searcher to select the sections for display, searching, and delivery.

Here is an example of the screen views from Civil Procedure Before Trial – (Grey-haired California legal researchers know it as “Brown & Weil” for the original authors, Judge Robert I. Weil (Ret.) and Judge Ira A. Brown, Jr. (Ret.).)

The standard delivery icons for printing, emailing or download appear on the right.  (An in-house test of the new display allowed the email delivery of a full chapter by using the checkoff box.  While using the ACLL subscription, there will be limits to the amount of data that can be transferred.  Best to breakdown your request into smaller segments.)

Below is an illustration for a search for information on “application to the court for an ex parte motion.”

  • Using the plus signs to
    •  open the list of chapters that includes Chapter 9 Part 1 “Law and Motion” and then
    •  open list of topics within that chapter including Section F. “Ex Parte Applications”
  • Clicking on the box to the left of “Ex Parte Applications” changes the message in the search box at the top of the screen to show the researcher that the search will now be conducted only in the “specified content” of that section.

By searching the section for the term “appl!”,  the term is highlighted in the results


The new Westlaw secondary source screen also provides improvement in text display – a clean “reading mode” with only a table of contents additionally provided on the lower screen.  The reading mode selection button is on the upper right.

To ease document navigation, the table of contents for a title is now interactive and browsable on the publications main page.

The Thomson Reuters announcement of the upgrades can be read HERE.


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