Searching with Clause Hunt

Maarten Truyens Updated by Maarten Truyens

Getting started with Clause Hunt's search is quite easy, but there are actually quite some additional search tools that you may want to read about.

  1. The Locker Selection allows you to select different lockers to search in.
  2. In the Primary Query box you type words that should be found near each other.
  3. In the Secondary Query box you type words that should also be present in the document to be found.
  4. In the Filter panel you can narrow down found documents to certain categories, authors, years, files or titles.
  5. The Definition checkbox allows you to limit searches to paragraphs that resemble contract definitions.
  6. With the Previous/Next Document outer buttons and the Previous Highlight/Next Highlight inner buttons, you can navigate through the document.
  7. The Results Amount shows the number of results.
  8. The Clusters Bar graphically shows you where terms are found in the entire document, and how they are "clustered" together.
  9. The Term Highlighter allows you to select another term to visually highlight in the documents.

➊ Locker Selection

Clause Hunt allows you to create different "lockers" with documents — e.g., one for the Corporate department, one for Employment, one for IT/IP, and perhaps also a personal locker for every legal expert.

Creating different lockers is not only recommended to create a primary segmentation within your documents (i.e., most of the time an employment lawyer is not interested in finding IP-related documents), but is also useful for compliance reasons and ensuring internal information rules are met.

You should also be aware that a locker can only be optimised for a specific language. For example, when you search for "confidential" in a docker set to English, Clause Hunt will also find conjugated forms such as "confidentially". For different languages, different conjugation rules will be used, so ensure that you segment your documents upfront.

When you switch between lockers, Clause Hunt will re-submit your current search query. So if you do not find any useful results in one locker, you can easily try in another locker.

➋ Primary Query

In this box you type in your main search terms. Clause Hunt will then search for documents where those terms are near each other (i.e., maximum about 150 words apart).

For example, when you enter confidentiality liability as search words, you will find documents where both words are near each other.

Note that the words may also be spread across different paragraphs, e.g. when searching for change of control:

Similar to searching in Google, you can quote search terms, to ensure that terms are not merely within each other's neighbourhoud, but are instead found next to each other.

For example, when you want to search for paragraphs dealing with the concept of background intellectual property, a search such as the following may lead to undesirable results:

While a quoted search will be much better in this case:

Combining terms

You can also combine different terms. For example, when you want to search for results where the expressions "background IP" and "foreground IP" are in each other's vicinity:

Removing terms

By adding a hyphen to a term, you will remove search results having that term near the other terms specified. For example, this will search for documents with the expression garden leave not in the vicinty of the word executive.


Be aware that the software will always remove stopwords from your search terms, i.e. common words without much informational value, such as "the", "will", "shall", "if", "further", and so on.

➌ Secondary Query

In this box, you can specify other words that need to be present somewhere in the document. Those words do not need to be in the vicinity of the words of the primary query. For example, the following query would search for documents where "material", "adverse" and "effect" are near each other, while the word "hazardous" is also present somewhere (but not necessarily near the three other words).

Note that the word "hazardous" will not be initially highlighted in the document. You can, however, use the Term Highlighter [9] to highlight this word.

➍ Filter Panel

In this panel you can filter found results on criteria such as the document's title, year, author, client or dossier name. If many different results are available for a certain criteria, then a filter box will be shown that allows you to easily narrow down the results:

➎ Definition checkbox

If you enable this checkbox, then the search results will be limited to paragraphs that contain the word "means "or "meaning" close to the primary search query (or translations thereof — e.g., "signifie" and "sens" in French).

Note that you will typically not only find paragraphs in a definition list, but also paragraphs that contain an "inline" definition in the middle of a contract.

➏ Back/forth buttons

With the outer buttons, you can go to the next or previous document in the search results.

With the inner buttons, you can go to the next or previous cluster of results in the current document (except when you are at the end of the document, in which case you would jump to the first cluster of the next document).

➐ Results Amount

This indicator tells you how many documents were found, and which document you are currently seeing.

➑ Clusters Bar

This bar is probably the coolest feature of Clause Hunt, as it graphically shows you how all the search terms of your primary query are spread across a document. When search terms are near each other, they will get clustered into a bubbles — the bigger the bubble, the more search terms are located near each other in a particular part of the document.

By simply moving your mouse over the visual clusters bar, you can jump between different clusters/bubbles. Alternatively, you can click on the inner back & forth buttons [6].

➒ Term Highlighter

This popup allows you to specify which terms should be highlighted.

For example, when your primary query consist of the combination of "material adverse effect" and development, while your secondary query consists of pledged, you will see the following list:

When you select any option in the popup, the Clusters Bar will be updated to show where in the document the selected term is located. This is particularly useful for highlighting terms in your secondary query.

You can even highlight words not located in the primary/secondary query, by using the bottom input box.

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