Lexicon—A Tool for Organizing and Checking Defined Terms

One frustrating aspect of my self-appointed role as freewheeling contract-drafting guy is that I’m not involved, day in and day out, in drafting contracts. As a result, I don’t have occasion to gain hands-on experience with the nifty information-technology tools that are now available to help the drafter.

I wrote about a bunch of them in my ACC Docket article with Brian Quinn, but I just learned of another one, Lexicon.

Lexicon was launched in March 2008. According to Lexicon’s website, www.lexicontools.com, “Lexicon is an add-in for Microsoft Word that organizes and checks defined terms. By allowing you to locate defined terms and their uses quickly and easily, Lexicon makes document review easier.” Among other things, using Lexicon allows you to avoid common mistakes involving defined terms, such as terms that are used but never defined, terms that are defined but never used, terms that are defined more than once, and inconsistent conventions. I won’t go into any detail, because Lexicon’s website provides copious information.

One interesting aspect of Lexicon is the price—US$89 for a perpetual license. That would seem a bargain.

Other defined-terms software is already on the market. For example, there’s Defined Terms Indexer, by ProductivityApps. But as its name suggests, its function is limited to finding, highlighting, and indexing defined terms.

At least some of Lexicon’s functionality is offered by Deal Proof, a West product. But Deal Proof is a much broader product, with a price tag to match. (I plan to do a blog post about Deal Proof in the near future.)

Lexicon offers a free 30-day trial. I’d be delighted if some of you would give it a spin and post your comments.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on “Lexicon—A Tool for Organizing and Checking Defined Terms”

  1. Ken:

    I tried it. It seems kinda handy. I ran two form agreements through it and it found a few drafting busts. None were terribly significant in the sense that I could see litigation coming from them, but you never know.

    More interestingly, it let me compare instances where I used the same word with different meanings and also in a defined sense. I had previously eliminated the defined term “Law” but had not killed off all its uses in text. Lexicon searched for instances of “Law” and also showed up all its non-capitalized forms — “law,” “the law,” “any law,” and “laws.” All of these have different meanings, but I found one where I had said “any law” when I meant “law” and another where I had said “laws” when I mean “law.” To check all of these contrary meanings in the future, all I would have to do is type “Law” somewhere in the document (say, at the end) and it would show all of those uses for me and I could check for consistency.

    I am thinking that, if I come up with a init-capitalized list of words that I always want to check for consistency, I could just paste it into the end of the document and then run Lexicon against it. For those that use the word “shall,” that might oughta be at the top of the list.


  2. Chris-

    Thanks for trying Lexicon. You might like to know that you can add any terms you want (like “law” or “shall”) directly to the glossary rather than artificially inserting them in your document. Just click the Edit Glossary button or check the help file for instructions.

    – Steve Gullion, Lexicon Tools


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