Getting Started - some top tips
The British Newspaper Archive gives you access to millions of historical newspapers from around the world. You can can search and access millions of articles for free after you register. To view the entire collection you will need to choose a subscription package.
Here are some useful tips to help you get started.
There are two ways to get to the particular page you may be interested in; you can search or browse.
SEARCH: There's a simple “Google” type Search box on the home and search pages. This lets you type in words or phrases and will then search for pages containing those words.
There's also our more powerful Advanced Search form. It combines several powerful options to help refine your search. These include keyword(s), date, region, title, article type and tags that other users have added.
On your search results, a series of filters on the left hand side lets you refine your search. Read our Search Tips for more detailed advice on searching.
The BNA uses what is known as a fuzzy search, first matching the exact spelling of the word that you enter (e.g. archive), plus any related word variants (archived, archives, archiving etc.). This captures a broader set of results. When ordered by relevance, the search results that contain the exact matches will always appear first.
Using the ‘Exact Search’ checkbox
Please select the ‘Exact Search’ checkbox below the search box. This will exclude any related word variants from your search results. For example:
FREE TO VIEW: You can find this search option in the Advanced Search or within the filters on the left-hand side of your search results. It is listed under Access Type. You have two options, either Free to View or Subscription. By selecting the Free to View option you will be able to view millions of newspaper articles for free. Learn more about our Free to View pages in our Blog.
BROWSE: This lets you find a specific newspaper by its title (via the drop down title list) or by place of publication (via the clickable map). A series of filters on the left lets you drill down to find the exact edition you're looking for.
VIEW: When you have narrowed down your selection by either of the above methods, just click on the thumbnail of the pages shown in the results panel and it will appear in the viewer. At this point if you have already chosen a usage package, the image will appear in the viewer. If not, you will be prompted to purchase a package. Once the Viewer appears, you can move through the newspaper pages using a mixture of zoom, scrolling and grab tools.
The Viewer contains print and download image options. There are also engaging features allowing you to add a comment or tag to a page to help contextualise it. However, perhaps the most useful tool is Bookmarking. This enables you to save and organise your research into a series of folders in your “My Research” area (accessible via the top navigation tabs).
Searchable text: Once images of the original material have been created, they are sent through a process called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) which creates the electronic text in a searchable format. This process also involves segmenting each page into article types to aid searching. Although OCR makes it possible to search large quantities of full text information it is not 100% accurate. The accuracy depends on a variety of factors: condition of the original newspaper or microfilm, quality of the paper, size and style of the font and column layouts, for example.
When viewing an image, the OCR text can be viewed via the left navigation column 'All Articles' option. You can select an individual article (either from the image in the Viewer or from the 'All Articles' dropdown. Then select the 'Edit Article Text' option in the left navigation column. How to correct the text - This option can be accessed by simply clicking the list of sections displayed and applying your own corrections. By correcting the text, you will be adding to the quality of the data that can be searched by others.