Thursday, February 25, 2010

A PSA on Printing from Lexis & Westlaw

If you’ve been frustrated to find the Law School’s dedicated LexisNexis and Westlaw printers out of toner recently, you’re not alone. Our student representatives for the popular research services have reported an increase in service calls lately due to a high volume of large print jobs, such as an entire 100+ page session law when the student probably needed only a few pages (judging from the amount of paper in the recycling bin). Printing individual sections of a code can also add up, if you forget to exclude the annotations—those secondary source and case summaries can easily increase your print job by hundreds of pages! In the interest of saving toner and trees, here are some tips on smarter printing from Lexis and Westlaw.

    Do you blithely hit the “FastPrint” button whenever you find a document that looks remotely relevant? If so, you’ve probably been shocked in the past when that enormous print job in the Document Production Room has your name on the cover sheet. Rather than send every Lexis or Westlaw document directly to the stand-alone printers, try the “Download” button instead of “Print” or “FastPrint” in order to preview the page count in a format like Word or PDF, and estimate how many pages you actually need. (Note that if you have a pop-up blocker on your web browser, you’ll need to disable it when downloading documents from Westlaw, or manually override the blocker each time you download, generally by holding either the Ctrl or Shift key.) When you then choose to print from the downloaded file’s menu, you can use the “Page Range” feature to cut out unwanted pages.


    If you prefer not to deal with downloads, take advantage of options in the “Print” menu in order to shorten your lengthy print jobs. On Westlaw, you can adjust the size of your document by limiting the displayed fields before printing. On the bottom right-hand corner of the page, click on the arrow next to "Tools" and choose "Limit by Fields" to remove unwanted parts of the document before printing.

    On Lexis, choose the “Print” icon (not FastPrint), change the Document View to “Custom,” and press the “Edit” button. This will bring up a screen where you can de-select unwanted segments of documents (for example, the case annotations to a code section, or the headnotes of a case).


    We know all too well about law students’ love affair with highlighters, but how often do you really go back to those piles of paper before chucking them into a recycle bin? Consider storing your documents on a flash drive, your network file space, or even in your email. No one likes to read a lengthy document on a computer screen, but a quick review of the file (or clever use of “Find in Page”) can help you determine which pages you really need in hard copy, and which can remain peacefully in pixels.
Our Lexis and Westlaw representatives are happy to provide further assistance with printing. Their schedules and contact information are available at Lexis’s “MySchool” link and Westlaw’s welcome screen.