Cases reported in West's National Reporter System or on Westlaw feature several "editorial enhancements" created by West attorney-editors. Editorial enhancements typically include:
Synopsis: a paragraph-length summary of the facts, procedural posture and main holding(s) of an opinion. The synopsis may also include a summary of the central issues of the case, the name of the trial level judge and the name of the judge who wrote the opinion.
Headnotes: sentence-length summaries condensing a point of law discussed in the case.
The synopsis, digest, topic and headnote fields in case law databases on Westlaw often contain added search terms (i.e., terms that do not appear in the judicial opinion). In preparing the synopsis and headnotes, West attorney-editors paraphrase the language of the court, changing proper names, specific brands, and regional, archaic, informal language into universally recognized terminology and relationships. For example, Mr. Brown or plaintiff is also described as landlord, tipsy is described as intoxicated, and Bufferin is aspirin. This allows for the online retrieval of a great many relevant cases that would otherwise be missed.
Topic and Key Number(s): assigned to each point of discussed in every headnote of a case reported by West can be used in West print digests or in the Custom Digest on Westlaw to find other cases discussing similar points of law.
Editorial scrutiny of case law includes: more than 1.5 million case citations are checked, 500,000 parallel citations are added and 80,000 errors in opinions are corrected (with the permission of the court) each year.
Editorial enhancements on Westlaw also include the page numbers used in the print reporters, as well the precise location of the page breaks.