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Secondary Sources in Law : Finding Encyclopedia Entries Relating to a Legal Topic

This guide contains resources and guidance to help students find secondary legal materials.

Finding encyclopaedia entries relating to a legal topic


Legal encyclopaedias are useful tool to help you find an overview of a legal topic, including references to both case law and legislation.

  • It is best to search a legal encyclopaedia using a short search string; use a few keywords at most.

  • If your search term is a "phrase" and it includes more than one words, you might need to place it in double quotation marks: for instance "promissory estoppel" and promissory estoppel will return different results.

  • Try searching in the table of contents only, and if unsuccessful, expand your search to the full text of the document.

  • If you know the legal field within which your search term exists, it is often quicker to locate it by browsing. For instance, if you are searching for manslaughter, your browsing path might be:
    Criminal Law > Homicide > Manslaughter.



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  • The easiest way to find information in Halsbury's is by browsing. But if you do need to search, it is best to start by limiting your search to Table of Contents only.

  • Lexis Advance Pacific allows you to save shortcuts to resources that you regularly use. From the main page, go to Publications and click on the item to bring up a menu, then click on Save publication to Favourites to bookmark it.



Legal Dictionaries provide definitions of legal terms. They sometimes also provide reference to relevant primary legal sources, e.g. cases or legislation.