Help

Welcome to the online tour for Oxford DNB. This video demonstrates all of the key features and functionality available on the site.

For information about the Oxford DNB, including its history and how often it’s updated, please visit our About page.

For answers to some common questions about the site visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Don’t have access? Then find out how to subscribe

Librarians: for information about your subscription, including how to log in to your administrator account, access usage statistics, and download MARC records, please visit our Customer Services page. 

Use the table of contents to find out about a specific area of the site. If you cannot find an answer to your question, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Logging on

You, your library, or an institution with which you are affiliated must have a current subscription to log in to the Oxford DNB for full access. Find out how to subscribe.

Logging on with a username and password

If you have bought your own individual subscription to the Oxford DNB, type your username and password in the login fields in the left-hand navigation bar on the home page. Please remember: your password is case-sensitive.

ODNB homepage username and password

If you are a librarian and are having problems logging in, or have forgotten your administrator password, please visit the Customer Services page to learn how to retrieve it.

Logging on from a subscribing institution

If you are logging in from an institution which has a subscription, or if your institution uses a referring URL system, you should authenticate on the site automatically.

If you are returned to the home page, please consult your system administrator or librarian.

If your institution uses Eduserv’s Athens service or Shibboleth, simply click on “Sign in via your Institution” on the home page to reach your Athens or Shibboleth login area.

ODNB homepage institution

Logging on with your library card

Some libraries allow remote access to websites to which they subscribe. Your librarian can tell you if that option is available to you.

If your library does allow remote access, simply click on “Sign in with your Library Card” on the home page and then enter your library card number in the field that appears. If you encounter difficulties entering the site using your library card number, please consult your librarian.

ODNB homepage library card

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Home page

Site header

ODNB site header

Across the top of the screen is the site header which contains links to administrative and information resources. These appear on every page:

About: find out more information on the Oxford DNB, including its history and how often it’s updated

Tools and Resources: additional content to help you get the most out of the Oxford DNB

Subscribe: discover more about the different ways you can purchase access to the Oxford DNB

Customer Services: information for librarians, including how to log in to your administrator account, access usage statistics, and download MARC records

You can return to the home page from any other part of the site by clicking on the top banner image.

Search panel

To look up a person, type their name into the Search box on the right-hand side of the screen, under the top banner image, and click the magnifying glass icon, or press Enter on your keyboard.

Please note: the quick search panel has been restricted to only search across article titles, in order to provide the most relevant results. If you would like to find results outside of just the article title, please use the ‘modify your search’ options - find out more about these options.

Find out more about how quick search works.

Browse panel

ODNB browse panel open

The Browse options are to the left of the Search box. You can browse the contents of the Oxford DNB by occupation and religious affiliation. Click on “Occupation” or “Religious Affiliation” and then click on one of the given options to view a list of matching articles. Once at this list you can narrow down your choices by using the filter panel on the left.

By clicking on “Browse all” in this list you will be taken to the full list of articles available on the Oxford DNB, which you can then narrow down by using the filter panel on the left.

Find out more about how browsing works.

The sign-in box

ODNB homepage sign in box

The library module gives you information about the account you’re using to access the Oxford DNB. It appears on the left-hand side of every page. 

Please note: you can create and log in with a secondary, personal set of credentials in order to use the “Personal Account” personalization feature, where you can save content and searches. This section appears in the top-right of the website. Find out more about the “Personal Account”.

Click the small arrow to open the library module:

ODNB open institution login

To close it, click the small arrow again:

ODNB close institution login

The name of the account providing you with access is at the top of the box. 

You can use the library module to run a search across any library made available by your library administrator.

Type or paste the term you want to find in the Search box, select the library you want to search from the list and click “Go” or press Enter on your keyboard:

ODNB search institution login

The results of your search are displayed in a new window.

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Quick search

Running a quick search

To look up a person, type their name into the Search box on the right-hand side of the screen, under the top banner image, and click the magnifying glass icon, or press Enter on your keyboard.

Please note: the quick search panel has been restricted to only search across article titles, in order to provide the most relevant results. If you would like to find results outside of just the article title, please use the ‘modify your search’ options – find out more about these options.

ODNB quick search

The results of your search are displayed in a Results list – click on any of the main headers in the list to view the corresponding article.

You can use the wildcard * in your search, or Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT)

Results list

The results of a search are displayed in the Results list.

ODNB search results list

The results that match your search are listed on one or more page(s). The number of results (and your search criteria) appears at the top of the list.

Each of the results in the list consists of the article title, its author, and its publication date (in print and online, where relevant).

To open a result, click on its title.

You may also see entries which say “Image” next to them – these correspond to images on the Oxford DNB. All image entries in the list consists of the image title, its photographer or maker (if known), and its publication date (in print and online, where relevant). The images will also tell you which article references them and includes a link to the article(s) under ‘Referenced In’.

Anything with a red padlock next to it is unavailable under your current level of access – you will be able to click through to the article, but you won’t be able to read any of the content. Find out how to subscribe in order to get access to this content.

Moving between results pages

The number of pages of results is shown at the top and bottom of the list. To move to any of the numbered pages, click on the desired number.

Sorting results

Results are listed by relevance to your search word(s) or phrase(s). You can also choose to order them by a number of different options, all available to view by clicking on the drop-down box at the top of the Results list:

ODNB search results sort

Narrowing your choices

You can narrow down the list by using the options on the left-hand side of the Results list under the “Modify your search” header, which includes searching within the results or narrowing by format, type, gender, life event, occupation, and more..

In order to search across the full text of the articles themselves, click the drop-down box under “Modify your search”, choose the “Full Text” option, and click “Update”.

If you have added a criterion to your Results list, you may have more than one search term or filter listed at the top of the page. Any of these may be removed by clicking the cross next to it. To clear all your search terms, click “Clear all”.

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Browse

The Browse options are to the left of the Search box. You can browse the contents of the Oxford DNB by occupation and religious affiliation. Click on “Occupation” or “Religious Affiliation” and then click on one of the given options to view an alphabetical list of matching articles.

ODNB brows panel open

By clicking on “Browse all” in this list you will be taken to the full list of articles available on the Oxford DNB, which you can then narrow down by using the filter panel on the left.

ODNB browse all results

Each of the entries in the list consists of the article title, its author, its publication date (in print and online, where relevant), and the first few lines of the article itself.

To open anything, click on its title.

You may also see entries which say “Image” next to them – these correspond to images on the Oxford DNB. All image entries in the list consists of the image title, its photographer or maker (if known), and its publication date (in print and online, where relevant). The images will also tell you which article references them and includes a link to the article(s) under ‘Referenced In’.

Anything with a red padlock next to it is unavailable under your current level of access – you will be able to click through to the article, but you won’t be able to read any of the content. Find out how to subscribe in order to get access to this content.

Moving around the Browse list

The number of pages is shown at the top and bottom of the list. To move to any of the numbered pages, click on the desired number.

Sorting the list

The entries are sorted alphabetically by default. You can also choose to order them by a number of different options, all available to view by clicking on the drop-down box at the top of the Browse list:

ODNB browse results sort

Narrowing your choices 

You can narrow down the list by using the options on the left-hand side of the Browse list under the “Modify your search” header, which includes searching within the results or narrowing by format, type, gender, life event, occupation, and more.

In order to search across the full text of the articles themselves, click the drop-down box under “Modify your search”, choose the “Full Text” option, and click “Update”.

If you have added a criterion to your Results list, you may have more than one search term or filter listed at the top of the page. Any of these may be removed by clicking the cross next to it. To clear all your search terms, click “Clear all”.

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The article page

In order to see the full-text of any article on the Oxford DNB you, or your institution, must have purchased access. Find out how to subscribe.

The article page

ODNB article page Plath

At the top of the article page, where appropriate, you can toggle between the article itself and any images associated with it, using the tabs provided. If there is a podcast associated to an article, it will appear on an ‘audio’ tab.

ODNB article page Plath tabs

In the article tab, you can find relevant bibliographical information at the top. The full text of the article appears immediately below.

A list of contents for the article appears on the left-hand side – click any of these to go to that point in the article. As you scroll through the article, this navigation pane will move with you – meaning you can always get to another point in the article quickly and easily.

ODNB article page Plath contents

In the audio tab, click the podcast associated with the article and you will see the following display:

ODNB help article page SidneyBloom

If you hover over the volume icon on the left-hand side of the player, a second bar will appear.

ODNB help article page Sidney Bloom podcast

This bar allows you to increase or decrease the volume, and mute or unmute the sound. Clicking on the far left of the bar will mute the podcast, as will directly clicking on the volume icon. Clicking anywhere else along this second bar will increase or decrease the volume.

Outputting articles

ODNB article page share

To download a PDF of the article, click the PDF icon then follow the instructions provided. 

To save the article to your personal account, click the floppy disk icon. Find out more about personal accounts.

To generate a citation of the article, click the pen icon. You can choose MLA, APA, or Chicago formats, and the citations can be cut and pasted directly into your own work. You can also export citations to personal citation management packages, including EndNote, ProCite, ReferenceManager, RefWorks, BibTex, and Zotero (BibText).

To send an email link to the article, click the envelope icon and fill in the details as appropriate.

To print an article hover over the “share” icon and choose “Print” from the list that appears.

To share a link to the article on hundreds of different sites (including Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), click the share icon and choose one of the options.

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Personal account

You can create and log in with a secondary, personal set of credentials in order to use the “Personal Account” personalization feature. This section appears in the top-right of the website. 

Please note: this is separate from the account you use to access the content.

ODNB personal account

By registering for a personal account you can save content and annotations to your own personal area. (Please note: these are not the credentials you use to access the site content.) By registering, you agree to our Privacy Policy & Legal Notice

Already have a personal account? Sign in

Register for an account

Don't have a personal account? Then click “Create” in the top right corner of the website (just above the banner image), and follow the instructions given.

Signing in

To use your personal account you need to make sure you are signed in to your own personal area at the start of a session. (Please note: this is separate from the account you use to access the content.) You are already signed in to your personal area if your name appears at the top right of the window. If not, click “Sign in” and follow the instructions.

Signing out

To sign out of your personal account at the end of a session, click “Sign out” at the top right of the window, and follow the instructions. (Please note: this is separate from the account you use to access the content.)

Personal account

Your account is organized into three areas:

  • Recent activity: this area keeps a record of the articles you have viewed and the searches you have run most recently
  • Saved content: any articles you have chosen to save are listed here
  • Edit account details: use this area to change your password and other details

You can cite any article straight from your personal account; simply click the “Cite” option under the “Action” column. You can choose MLA, APA, or Chicago formats, and the citations can be cut and pasted directly into your own work. 

You can also export citations to personal citation management packages, including EndNote, ProCite, ReferenceManager, RefWorks, BibTex, and Zotero (BibText).

ODNB saved content

Saved articles 

To delete a saved article, click the “Delete” option (in the “Action” column). To delete more than one item tick the checkboxes of all the items you want to delete, then click the “Delete” button.

To change tags on a saved article, click the “Edit” option in the “Action” column.

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