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Forget tags. Use Concepts to find text fast.

Updated on
September 6, 2023

Unlike tags and using keywords, Concepts are like a “More like this” functionality. Lateral can quickly show you similar text across your documents based on what you save to a concept.

Say you find a great text passage that is exactly what you are interested in. For example in a literature review you may be interested in a specific theme across your documents. How do you find more like it? Inserting a text passage into a keyword search does not work. You will get back lots and lots of results containing some random combination of the keywords.

Super Search

With Lateral, not only can you keyword search across all your documents at once, but you also get similar text passages for each search result. So you can start by putting in some keywords and scrolling through the results. When you find an excellent result, you can then use Lateral's suggestions to quickly collect relevant information across your documents.

Clicking on a search result shows similar passages in the sidebar.


Often you may not know exactly what you are looking for. So starting with a keyword search is not useful. In this case you may be reading through a paper and suddenly come upon a text passage that is exactly what you were looking for.

This is where Lateral’s semantic AI comes in, which takes into consideration synonyms and themes of a text. You simply create a Concept and save the text to it, as you would do with a label, and then watch the magic happen, as Lateral starts suggests similar text passages to you.

Jump to key passages within a document

When reading the paper in the Document View (Lateral’s web-based PDF reader) this allows you to quickly jump to other text passages within a document. A great way to skip to the key parts of the document that are interesting to you.

Once you have created a Concept, you can jump to suggestions in the right sidebar.

Find key passages across your documents

When you look at your table of findings (called the Table View) it also allows you to click any cell to see suggestions for that Concept and document. For example, if for Document 1 I have found a great text passage, I can simply click on the cell for Document 2 (or 7 in the screenshot below) to qualify whether there are matching passages for the same Concept. In the end the table provides an excellent overview of which documents have the most content for each of my Concepts.

Click any cell in a Concept column to get suggestions for that document in the right sidebar.

Naming Concepts

A benefit is also that you do not need to give Concepts a word as a name. Instead you can write an entire paragraph describing a topic and Lateral will use that to find text passages for you. When you then save text passages it will also take those into consideration when making suggestions.

Give Concepts a name of any length and Lateral will use that name to find content for you.

Additional benefits of Concepts

Re-use them across projects to build on previous work

A key benefit to Concepts is that you can re-use them across projects. Fantastic as you can quickly get going and build on the work you did before. Simply add your documents to the new project and add the Concept from the Concept list. Lateral will then make suggestions based on what you saved previously.

Select an existing Concept from the Concept menu. Lateral will now make suggestions based on what you saved in other projects for that Concept. If you add the same document to 2 projects, saved snippets will also appear for the same Concept.

Spin out Concepts into further papers

You can always also visit the Concept page under “Admin” in the Dashboard to see all your Concepts and text passages you saved to all of them. You can then continue to build on those Concepts and spin out further papers or work from them. Something we often here from the community as being a key benefit to researching with Lateral.

Visit the Concept tab to see all your Concepts and text snippets saved per Concept.


1. Concepts are like a “More like this” functionality for quickly finding text that matches your interests.

2. Concepts give you the flexibility to broadly define what you are looking for, like a fuzzy keyword search.

3. Concepts let you continuously collect and built out your findings library, as well as training Lateral what it should find for you.

Making for a faster, more organised and inspiring experience, and forming a strong foundation to build on.

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