1 Welcome

These Help pages contain all you need to know about using the online edition of the Oxford DNB. They describe the features you will meet as you explore the dictionary, in the order that you are likely to meet them. To find information on a specific topic, use the table of contents on the left, or your browser's find facility.

1.1 Subscribing to the Oxford DNB

The Oxford DNB is a subscription-only site, so to see the articles you, or your library or institution, must have a current subscription.

For information about subscribing, click here, and for information about the different ways in which you can log in, go to Logging in. If you are having problems with logging in or your subscription, please consult the Subscriber services page.

On the public pages, for which you do not need a subscription, you can read about the Oxford DNB, and see a sample of its content.

1.2 Today's life

Every day, a different biography from the Oxford DNB appears as Today's life. Today's life is always topical, and usually marks the anniversary of the birth or death of its subject. You do not need a subscription to read Today's life.

1.3 Lives of the week

Lives of the week features today's life and the lives from the previous six days. You do not need a subscription to read Lives of the week.

1.4 Biographies by email

We send out the text of Today's life in an email every day. If you would like to receive this daily biography, read about signing up here.

If you decide you no longer want to receive Today's life, instructions for signing off appear here.

2 Logging in

To log in, click on the 'Subscribers enter here' button at the top right of the screen. If you are in a subscribing institution, you will go straight to dictionary's home page; otherwise, you will go to a login screen. See below for details on the different ways of logging in.

You, or your library or an institution to which you are affiliated, must have a current subscription to use the Oxford DNB.

For information about subscribing to the Oxford DNB, click here.

If you are not a subscriber and tried to follow a cross-reference from Today's Life, a Life of the Week, or our feature theme, please use your browser's back button to return to what you were reading.

If you have been returned to this page, and are seeing the message The credentials did not match any known account, check what you typed (remember that your password is case-sensitive) and that you used the right fields.

If you still have a problem, contact your system administrator or go to Subscriber services.

Every time you log in to the Oxford DNB you begin a session–a period during which the subscription system recognizes you as a user. If you log out, close your browser, spend some time in the public pages of the site, or simply do nothing in the Oxford DNB site for a while, your session will time out. If this happens, you will be asked to log in again.

If you are using your own computer, you can minimize the inconvenience by setting your browser to remember your credentials.

2.1 With user name and password

If you have your own subscription to the Oxford DNB, type your user name and password in the Subscriber login fields to enter the site.

Your password is case-sensitive.

If you have problems logging in, or have forgotten your password, please consult Subscriber services.

2.2 With your library card

Some public libraries allow remote access to internet sites to which they subscribe. Ask at your library.

A library may implement remote access through a referring URL or by logging in with a library card. If you are using a referring URL, you will enter the site automatically. If you do not, please consult your librarian. If you are using your library card, enter your library card number in the Library Card Login field.

2.3 With Athens/Access Management Federation

If you have an Athens account or you are at an institution using an Access Management Federation please select your institution from the drop down list provided. If your institution is not listed or you have any other questions please contact us:

Outside the Americas: onlinesubscriptions@oup.com
Within the Americas: oxfordonline@oup.com

3 Home page

To start using the Oxford DNB right away, go on to the Quick start section of Help.

This section describes what you can see on the home page.

The layout of most Oxford DNB pages is constant, so what is said here is true throughout the site:

3.1 The top of the screen

At the very top of the screen are links to administrative and information resources. These appear on every page.

Beneath these links is the Quick Search box. See Quick Search.

The tabs on the sand-coloured bar take you into the three modes of the Oxford DNB, Search, Browse, and Themes. See How the Oxford DNB works.

At the right of the sand-coloured bar is the date of the Current version of the Oxford DNB.

3.2 The left of the screen

Follow the links to read more about the Oxford DNB or to take a guided tour.

The subscriber's name should appear here.

3.3 The centre of the screen

Quick search now fields enable you immediately to Search for a biography of a person or to Search for words in the text. See Quick Search.

This section also provides links to the key areas of the Oxford DNB site, discussed below.

3.4 The right of the screen

A daily-changing taster of the range of articles in the Oxford DNB.

4 Quick start

4.1 Quick search

To find a person in the dictionary, type their name in the Search for the biography of a person field and hit Go.

To find a word or phrase in the full text of the dictionary, type it into the Search for words in text field and hit Go.

You cannot combine a quick search for a name with a quick search in the text.

4.2 The results page

If there is only one person in the dictionary with the name you searched for, you will go straight to the article. Otherwise, you will go to a results page.

The results page

  1. Your results list
  2. What you searched for, and the order in which your results are displayed
  3. The navigation bar: move through your results list page by page, or go to the first or last page
  4. This icon shows that there is an illustration of this person in the dictionary
  5. Ordering options for your results set
  6. Refine your results list by searching within the results
  7. Help is always available here
  8. Quick search is always available here

Click on the name of the person you are interested in to go to their article.

4.3 The article page

The article page

  1. The article text
  2. The references section: the sources used in the writing of the article, and other supporting material
  3. Portrait of the subject; click on it to see a larger version of the picture
  4. The left hand pane contains links–for example, cross-references to other articles in the dictionary
  5. The navigation bar: go to the previous or next articles in your results list
  6. Return to your results list
  7. Help is always available here
  8. Quick search is always available here for another search
  9. Print out the article

5 Key facts

5.1 How the Oxford DNB works

The core of the Oxford DNB is its 50,000 biographies. You can approach the articles in three ways: by searching, browsing, or using Themes. Each of these modes is represented by a tab on the sand-coloured bar that appears on every page: click on Search, Browse, or Themes to enter that mode.

Search is the most important mode. You can find people in the dictionary not only by their name, but by their dates, principal activities, and many other criteria. You can also search for phrases in the full text, for bibliographical and other references, for articles written by different contributors, and for illustrations. When you click on the Search tab you will see the names of these different search pages appear on the sand-coloured bar. Click on one to see the options for that search.

Browse imitates the experience of browsing through a printed book: all the articles in the dictionary are shown in alphabetical order. You can also see them in chronological order, and you can browse through a list of all the contributors to the dictionary.

Themes guide you to the biographies of groups of people–for example, all the prime ministers of the United Kingdom. Some themes are simply lists; others discuss a group, event, or topic in history. All themes provide links to the relevant biographies.

For more details, see the Introduction.

5.2 Who is included?

The Oxford DNB contains biographies of noteworthy people from all walks of life.

It is a dictionary of national biography, but does not take a narrow view of 'Britishness'. It includes:

The Oxford DNB is the successor to the original Dictionary of National Biography (DNB), first published between 1885 and 1900, and then updated in supplements, published between 1901 and 1996.

For more details, see the Introduction.

The Oxford DNB was first published in September 2004, with coverage stretching to the end of the year 2000. It is now updated three times a year. The January update of each year extends the coverage of the dictionary by another year (for example, the January 2005 update introduced persons dying in the year 2001); the other updates introduce persons from all periods. A list of the articles introduced in each update is available as a Theme.

5.3 Types of article

Most articles in the dictionary are biographies of a single person. There are three types of exception to this general principle.

For more details, see the Introduction.

5.4 Types of contributor

Most articles from the original DNB have been replaced with newly written articles in the Oxford DNB. Some have been revised. Where an article has been revised, it retains the name of its original DNB contributor at its foot, annotated with 'rev.' The name of the contributor who revised the article for the Oxford DNB may also appear.

See further Publication details.

6 Searching: general rules

6.1 Quick search

The Quick search box appears at the top right of almost every page in the dictionary. Use the dropdown to choose to search either for a person in the dictionary or a word or phrase in the full text.

If you are searching for a person:

If you are searching the full text:

If you are on a search page, Quick search does not combine with the search fields in the main pane of the page.

6.2 Highlight search

When you are reading an article, Highlight search takes you quickly to another article. Highlight someone's name in the text of an article by clicking on it, and hit the Go button on Quick search. You will automatically run a search for that person.

If you select full text on the Quick search dropdown, Highlight search will search the full text of the dictionary for appearances of the highlighted word.

6.3 Dates

Many of the search pages include fields for searching by date. Help is given on each of these below, but there are some common rules:

6.4 Abbreviations

The Oxford DNB uses many abbreviations; see the full list. You can always access the full list from the beginning of these Help pages.

Most of them refer to commonly cited books or frequently occurring institutions, such as libraries or galleries, and are used most often in the references sections. When you search, you search both the abbreviation and the full form, so you do not need to know what our abbreviation is to find appearances of the book or institution.

6.5 Wildcards and Boolean operators

You can use the * and ? wildcards in most non-numeric search fields.

Wildcards will not work:

The Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT are not supported, but equivalent functionality is provided on the Full text search page.

6.6 Different word forms

In general, when you perform a search in the Oxford DNB, your results match exactly what you searched for, and not related words.

7 People search

Use this page to find people in the dictionary by searching different indexes.

Fill in the fields and then start your search with the Search button.

Help on each feature appears at the left of the screen when you click each heading in the left-hand pane, or any ? help icon.

Each field you fill in searches a different index, and the people you find will match all of your search terms. Note that Quick search, however, works independently: use the Name field to combine a search for a person with other searches.

Because you are searching indexes, and not the texts of the articles themselves, you do not go to a match point in the article, and the article may not explicitly mention your search terms. For example, if you search for people who lived in London, you may find the article describes them as living in a particular borough, and the word 'London' might not even appear.

7.1 Name

Enter surname alone, initials and surname, or forename(s) and surname, in natural order: Webb, B Webb, or Beatrice Webb.

If you use initials, leave spaces between them: T S Eliot.

You can also search by aristocratic title: Essex, or earl of Essex.

You do not need to use punctuation, accents, or capitals, or to know how people appear in the Oxford DNB, to find them: william the conqueror will find William I.

This search focuses on main names: james will find James III and Sid James but not James Joyce.

The following are stop words: da; de; du; of; the; van; von. These words are ignored by the search. (This gives better matches, especially in earlier periods, enabling for example Thomas de Bayeux to find Thomas of Bayeux.)

Choose to See more name options for more specific searches.

See more name options allows you to search for individual parts of people's names and aristocratic titles, using a different field for each part:

Aristocratic titles are broken up into:

Use the Go button to add your more name options to your search; you will return to the People Search page.

7.2 Fields of interest

Use this option to search for people who were active in a particular area of life.

Choose a dropdown option from one of 25 general areas, such as Law and crime or Trade and Retailing.

Choose to Open full list for more specific searches within each general area.

Open full list opens a pop-up which shows all 25 general areas as trees with branches and sub-branches, enabling you to search for people with a precise field of interest. Open up a general area into its branches by clicking on its [+] icon, and select your field of interest by clicking on the branch or sub-branch.

Once you have selected an area or one of its branches, it appears in Your search selections on the right of the screen. To remove a branch from that box, click on it and use the Remove item(s) button.

You can choose more than one area, branch or sub-branch, and you can choose to search for people with all those fields of interest (Match All) or at least one of them (Match Any). When you are ready, click Go to add the terms to your people search and to return to the People Search page.

As well as browsing through the trees and branches, you can search for a word anywhere in the trees by using the Find areas that contain field at the top of the pop-up. Any branches or sub-branches containing your search word will appear; click on one to add it to your people search. Return to complete list shows all the trees again.

7.3 Sex

Tick one or more of the Sex checkboxes to restrict your search to women, men, or families and groups.

Sex is set to All as the default: with this setting your search will return any of the people in the dictionary, alongside families or groups of people in family and group articles such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

If you select both Male and Female, but not Family / Group, your search will return people in the dictionary (including members of groups and families) but not the groups and families themselves.

7.4 Life dates

Use Life dates to restrict your search to a particular year or period in history.

Enter a single year in the first box to restrict your search to people alive in that year, or use both fields to search for people alive in a period: from 1485 to 1603.

The default setting is alive; the active setting works in the same way but finds only people who were twenty or older at the specified time.

Where we do not know exactly when someone was born or died, we give them approximate life and active dates for searching purposes.

Two useful tips:

7.5 Places, dates, life events

Use this option to search for people who, for example, were born, or died, in a particular place at a particular time.

First, choose a type of life event from the Event dropdown, such as Birth.

Then, enter either a single year (in 1923) or two years to define a period: from 1837 to 1901. You can choose specific dates by using the day and month dropdowns.

Use the Place field to specify any kind of place name, from country (Scotland) to a precise building name (York Minster) or address (High Street, Belfast).

The Places, dates and life events section is all about what, when, and where. You can search for a life event at a particular time, or in a particular place, or both.

The life event dropdown features the events that frame people's lives: birth, baptism, education, residence (that is, where they lived), death, and burial. We do not know where and when everyone in the dictionary was educated, say, or resided, so not everyone will appear in the results for these searches. But we do know that all the people in the dictionary were born and died. If we do not know exactly when someone was born or died, we give them approximate birth and death dates for searching purposes. We also add approximate dates for other events, if we know that someone attended a particular school or college, or lived in a particular place, but not exactly when.

If you leave the life event dropdown set to Any, you will find life events from all the categories.

For the date part of your search, you can choose either to enter a single date, or to enter two dates to make a period. The year fields behave like the year fields in Life Dates:

As well as a year, or pair of years, you can use the day and month dropdowns to make your search more specific: in 1805 on 21 October; or from 1837 on 20 June to 1901 on 22 January.

If you use the day and month option, bear the following points in mind:

Use the Place field to specify a country (Scotland), county (Cornwall), city, town, or village (Glasgow), street name (Regent Street), or building name (York Minster).

7.6 Religious affiliation

Search for people by their religious beliefs by choosing a faith from the first dropdown, and then, if desired, a more precise description from the second dropdown.

If you want to search for a combination of beliefs, use the Open full list option.

Use the Open full list option to choose combinations of religious belief: browse through the full list by clicking on the [+] icons and select terms by clicking on them. Once you have selected a belief, it appears in Your search selections on the right of the screen. To remove a belief from that box, click on it and use the Remove item(s) button.

You can choose more than one belief, and you can search for people who each held all those beliefs (Match All) or each held at least one of them (Match Any). When you are ready, click Go to add the beliefs to your people search and to return to the People Search page.

7.7 Image

Check the box to restrict your search to people whose pictures are reproduced in the dictionary.

There are more than 10,000 images of different people in the Oxford DNB.

For more detailed searches on the images, use the Image search page.

7.8 Text search

Search for words or phrases appearing anywhere in the dictionary by typing them in this box.

The default setting for text searches is for an exact match; or you can choose to match all your words or any of them. You can also choose what part of an article your search terms should appear in.

You can combine searches using any of the sections on the People Search page with this text search to find people more quickly, and to go to specific parts of their articles: Henry in name search with bosworth in this text search, for example, will find the Henry who fought at the battle of Bosworth, and the result will take you straight to the first mention of Bosworth in the article.

Change the setting by using the buttons below the box:

You can narrow down your search by using the dropdown next to the text box, choosing either specific parts of an article in which your search words must occur, or specific uses (such as Derby as a place name but not an aristocratic title). See Full text search help for the list of choices.

See also Wildcards and Boolean operators.

8 Full text search

Use the Full Text page to search for words or phrases appearing anywhere in the dictionary.

Use more than one of the fields to combine search terms.

Your results page will include the first context for your search term in each article.

Note that, if your results list contains very long articles, there will be a pause before it is displayed.

8.1 Text types

You can narrow down your search by using the dropdown next to the text box: choose either specific parts of an article to search in (for example, within quotation text) or specific uses for your search term (for example, as the name of a place).

The choices are:

8.2 Exact / All words / Any words

Change the setting by using the buttons below the box:

Exact will return only exact matches on your phrase;

All words will return articles containing all your search words, though not necessarily together;

Any words will return articles containing any of your search words, though not necessarily all of them.

The wildcard * will not work when you are using the Exact setting. If you want to use the wildcard, change the setting to All or Any words, even if you are only searching for a single word.

8.3 And / Or / Without

You can combine searches for words or phrases in different parts of the article text by using more than one of the three entry fields.

When you add a second or third search term:

AND means that both it and the previous term must occur in each of your results;

OR means that either it or the previous term must occur in each result;

WITHOUT means that it must not appear in any of your results.

When you enter terms in all three entry fields, the searches are run in order, so that if you search for apple AND pear WITHOUT orange, your results will all contain apple and pear, and none of them will contain orange.

9 References search

Use this page for specialized searching through the references materials that appear at the foot of every article.

Sources: the sources used in the preparation of the article.

Archives: any manuscripts or other materials (including sound and film records) relating to people in the dictionary.

Likenesses: records of any portraits, photographs or other visual representations of the people in the dictionary.

Wealth at death: either an official record (made for tax purposes) or other valuation of the wealth at death of people in the dictionary.

Your results page will include the first instance of your search term in each article. It may be that an article contains more than one result for your search term.

Within the references section, we use abbreviations for commonly cited institutions, books and journals. You can see a full list of these on the Abbreviations page. When you search in the references section, your search will find both the abbreviations and the full forms. So you can find, for example, likenesses in the National Portrait Gallery by searching for either national portrait gallery or simply NPG.

9.1 Sources

Sources are the sources used in the preparation of each article.

Source type: you can limit your search to books alone, or to other kinds of source.

Title: names of books and articles, or descriptions of manuscripts. Enter a word or an exact phrase.

Journal title: for newspapers and all periodicals.

Author surname and Initials: if you enter initials, leave spaces between them: H C G.

Year: the year of publication or, for manuscripts, creation. You can enter a single year, or use both Year fields to define a period.

The Source type dropdown offers the following choices:

Remember that some of your results with a Sources search may be abbreviations. Where, for example, you have searched for an author and you are given an abbreviation as a match, check the Abbreviations list to find out why.

9.2 Archives

Search for archival deposits relating to people in the dictionary.

Archive type allows you to focus on Sound and film recordings of people, or General archival holdings, such as diaries and letters.

There are two fields that allow searching for archival holdings by location: use Institution to search by the name of a library or other institution; use Place for a more general search, by institution name, town, or county.

Use Description to search by a description of the kind of material you are looking for: letters, for example, or the name of a manuscript collection, such as Broadlands.

Descriptions of archival deposits, searched through the description field, can be of many different kinds. They can be descriptions of the material itself, ranging from the general (letters, diaries) to the more precise (corresp. with W. E. Gladstone, diary for 1821); or descriptions of the subject matter (letters concerning the building of Halsham mausoleum, diary of visits to the Seven Churches of Asia). Maximize results by trying different search words.

9.3 Likenesses

The Likenesses search allows you to search for records of known images of people in the dictionary. Use the Images search page to search for pictures in the Oxford DNB.

Artist Surname and Initials allow you to search by artist.

Enter a single Year to find likenesses created in that year, or enter a year in both Year fields to find likenesses made over a period.

There are two fields that allow searching for likenesses by their location: use Institution to search by the name of a gallery, museum, or other institution; use Place for a more general search, by institution name, town, or county.

There are many examples in the Oxford DNB of engravings or copies of paintings–for example, 'W. Hollar, etching, 1684 (after H. Holbein, 1543)'. Such works will be returned as matches on either the original or the later work.

Dates of pictures are usually dates of their making, but can be dates of:

9.4 Wealth at death

Use the Wealth at death search to search through our records of assessments of the wealth of people in the dictionary at the time of their death.

First, choose a type of record: Official records are assessments made at death for tax purposes; any other assessment is classed as Other; or you can choose to search All records.

Enter a value (in £) in the Amount field; use the dropdown to qualify as less than or equal to (<=), equal to (=), or more than or equal to (>=).

Many assessments do not include monetary figures: search for descriptive words (such as bankrupt, wealthy) in the description field.

Our wealth at death records for people of more recent times are mainly official records; further back in history, the assessments are generally unofficial and contain more descriptive material.

All wealth at death records should be handled with care. Where there is more than one value, one might be an alternative to the other, or complementary to it.

Only amounts in pounds sterling are searchable. They are searchable to the nearest pound.

10 Contributor search

Find the authors of articles in the Oxford DNB with the Contributors search page.

Search by surname, or initials and surname in natural order: Tomalin, or C Tomalin.

Contributor search focuses on contributors' surnames. Searching for James will find M. R. James but not James Lees-Milne.

Use initials rather than forenames, because many contributors sign their articles using initials, rather than forenames, with their surnames.

Contributor search returns the writers and revisers of all the articles in the Oxford DNB, and the writers of articles from the original DNB that have been revised in the Oxford DNB. If all the articles written by a contributor to the original DNB have been replaced, rather than revised, for the Oxford DNB, that contributor will not be returned as a search result.

10.1 Contributor lists

A successful Contributor search returns one or more contributors' names. Where a contributor to the Oxford DNB is also the subject of a biography in the dictionary, you will see a link to that biography.

The number of articles contributors wrote or revised for the Oxford DNB appear by their names.

10.2 Articles by contributor

Articles are shown here without annotation if they were newly written for the Oxford DNB.

Articles shown with a square-bracketed annotation are articles that were originally published in the Dictionary of National Biography, between 1885 and 1996, which have been revised for the Oxford DNB. If the contributor was the original author of such an article, it is annotated with '[orig.]'; if the contributor was the Oxford DNB reviser of such an article, it is annotated with '[rev.]'.

The same convention is also used where an article in the Oxford DNB has been substantially revised in an online update. See further Publication details.

A few articles from recent DNB supplements have been revised for the Oxford DNB by their original DNB contributors. These are shown without annotation.

See further the Introduction.

11 Image search

Use this Images search page to search for pictures in the Oxford DNB.

Artist Surname and Initials allow you to search by artist. Leave a space between initials: J M W.

Enter a single Year to find images created in that year, or enter a year in both Year fields to find images made over a period.

There are two fields that allow searching for likenesses by their location: use Institution to search by the name of a gallery, museum, or other institution; use Place for a more general search, by institution name, town, or county.

Use Credits to search for copyright holders of the images.

In the results set, click on a subject's name to go to that entry; click on the image icon to open the Image details pop-up. Image details contains a larger version of the image, along with its full caption and copyright details. In many cases it also contains a hyperlink to the website of the copyright holder.

12 Search results

If your search produces only one result, you go straight to that article. Otherwise, you go to the results page.

12.1 Display conventions

Your search results appear in the main pane. At the top of the pane you will see:

What appears in the results list depends on the kind of search.

Image icons appear follow the headwords of all illustrated articles; click on the icon to see the picture in the Image details pop-up.

12.2 Ordering search results

Change the order of your results with the Reorder results panel in the left-hand pane.

The default is Alphabetical order. In alphabetical order:

See further the Introduction.

You can change the order to Birth date order or Death date order. In these chronological orders:

Reverse the order of results using the Reverse order button.

12.3 Search within these results

If you have more results than you want, you can use the Search within these results panel to refine your results set. It includes some of the features from the People Search page: you can choose:

When you hit Search you will search within your original results set with your new search terms.

Back to original search returns you to your original search page, with your original query filled in. Use this option if you have over-refined your results set.

12.4 Navigation, numbering, and pages

The grey navigation bar across the top of your search results contains all the navigation features.

The Previous and Next icons take you to the previous and next pages of your results sets. Alongside the Previous and Next icons are the |< and >| icons, to take you to the first and last pages of your results.

In the centre of the bar is the number of pages in your results set; you can go to a particular page by entering a page number in the Go to page and hitting Go.

You can change the number of results shown on a page by adjusting the Results per page dropdown beneath the Search within these results panel.

12.5 Printing search results

The print icon at the left of the grey navigation bar changes your results list to a printer-friendly version. Use your browser's print function to print out.

12.6 Emailing search results

The email icon on the grey navigation bar opens up a form with which you can send your results list by email. The form includes fields for the recipient's name and address, your own name and address, and a text field for any message you would like to add.

Your results list will be included as text in the body of your email, with simplified formatting (note that some unusual characters will be flattened into more conventional equivalents).

13 Browsing

The browse pages imitate the experience of browsing through a printed book: all the articles in the dictionary are shown in alphabetical order. You can also see them in chronological order, or browse through a list of all the contributors to the dictionary.

13.1 People

When you choose the Browse tab you will go automatically to a list of all the people in the dictionary in alphabetical order.

An entry in this browse list might be:

The panels in the left hand pane offer three different ways of making the browse list more manageable.

First, use the ordering buttons in the Browse panel to change the order from alphabetical to birth date or death date order.

If you use one of the chronological orders, note that:

Secondly, navigate around the browse list by using the arrays and Go to features in the Browse panel.

When the browse list is in alphabetical order, click on a letter in the alphabet array to go to the first subject whose name begins with that letters. Alternatively, type a surname, or the beginning of a surname, in the Go to name starting field and you will go to the first subject with that surname. If no one in the dictionary has that name, you will go to the first name that matches the most letters at the beginning of the name you typed.

When the browse list is in birth date or death date order, click on a year in the array of years to go to the first subject who was born (or died) in that year. Alternatively, type a year in the Go to year field to go to the first subject with that birth (or death) date.

Thirdly, you can use the Show only panel to limit the entries in the browse list to subjects and co-subjects who are, female, male families/groups; or who are illustrated in the dictionary.

13.2 Contributors

The Contributors browse page offers an alphabetical list of all the contributors to the dictionary, together with a note of the number of articles each contributed, and, should the contributor also be the subject of a biography in the dictionary, a link to that biography.

Click on contributors' names to see the articles each wrote.

Navigate around the list by using the Browse panel in the left hand pane. Click on a letter in the alphabetical array to go to the to the first contributor whose name begins with that letters. Alternatively, type a surname, or the beginning of a surname, in the Go to name starting field and you will go to the first contributor with that surname.

13.3 Get a life

The Get a life page gives you a randomly selected biography from the dictionary. This feature is the electronic equivalent of allowing a printed book to fall open at a random page.

14 The article page

When you arrive at an article page, you usually arrive at the beginning of the article. However:

14.1 The article

Each article begins with a headword that identifies the subject, comprising the subject's name, aristocratic title, life dates, and a short occupational statement.

The name is normally the subject's full personal name at death. Alternative names are given in square brackets.

If a subject bore an aristocratic title, it follows the name; where the subject had more than one, the highest title at death appears.

Life dates are dates of birth and death, where these are known. If a birth or death date cannot be dated to a single year, '/' indicates alternative years (1807/8) and x a range of years (1777x88). The following abbreviated qualifiers are used:

The occupation statement is a short, general statement of the subject's principal activity or activities..

Within the narrative of each article, any co-subjects appear in bold.

Cross-references appear in blue. Note that cross-references are used only to signal close family members and some other articles of importance to the subject, and are not used whenever a person mentioned in an article also has their own article. Use Highlight search to find such people in the dictionary.

Sources for quotations or specific facts in the text appear in parentheses. If the source is given in a short form (usually an author's name) you will find the source given in full in the Sources section.

For more information about the elements of an article, and the conventions used, see the Guide to Articles.

14.2 The image

If there is an illustration of the subject, click on it to open a larger version of the picture in the Image details pop-up. Alongside the image, this contains the caption, the picture credit, and, frequently, a hyperlink to the website of the copyright holder.

14.3 The contributor

The style of the contributor's signature shows whether an article has been newly written or revised. If 'rev.' follows a contributor's name, either the contributor was the original author of the DNB article, which has been revised for the Oxford DNB, or the contributor was the original author of the Oxford DNB article, which has subsequently been substantially revised in the online edition. In both cases, the name of the reviser usually follows.

14.4 References

The references section at the foot of the article may consist of four sections: sources, archives, likenesses, and wealth at death.

Sources contains bibliographical references to the sources used in the writing of the article.

Archives contains a list of any manuscripts or other materials (including sound and film records) relating to the subject of the article.

Likenesses: records of any portraits, photographs or other visual representations of the subject of the article.

Wealth at death: either an official record (made for tax purposes) or other valuation of the wealth at death of the subject of the article.

Many abbreviations are used in the references section. They appear in blue; click on any one to see the full forms of all the abbreviations used in the references section of that article. (You can also use this complete list of the abbreviations used in the Oxford DNB.)

Where an item in the references section pertains to a co-subject in the article, it is annotated with the co-subject's name.

The References link in the left-hand pane opens up an alternative view of the references section in a pop-up window, with the items arranged in list form.

If you are using the Oxford DNB with an institutional subscription, you may also see 'OpenURL' icons after some of the books and articles that appear as sources in the pop-up (they may look like this: ).

Click on one of these icons to run a search for the cited work in your library's holdings.

14.5 Publication details

The standard Oxford DNB form for citing an article appears at the foot of each article, and should be used as the default form for citing Oxford DNB articles (other citation models are available via the cite button; see below).

The citation contains publication information about the article, and then, in square brackets, details of the URL and access date.

The annotation 'rev.' is used as it is in the signature at the foot of the article.

For example:

The publication information can contain two limbs, separated by a semi-colon. The first gives information about the first publication of the article in the Oxford DNB; the second gives details about the current version of that article. Where a citation contains only one limb, the article as originally published in the Oxford DNB remains the current version.

For example:

Where a current version of an article differs from the originally published version of that article, we use two conventions to indicate the nature of the difference.

Note finally that if an article is completely replaced, the citation at the foot of the new article gives the publication details for the new article only.

If an article is changed or replaced in an online update, the previous version of the article remains available through the previous version link below the citation. If an article is revised or replaced in more than one update, each previous version will be available from a link at the bottom of its successor.

For more about corrections in the online edition of the Oxford DNB, see the Introduction.

Beneath the article citation, you will also see a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) for the subject of that article.

A DOI is a unique code that identifies an entity in the virtual world. Unlike a URL, which gives the address of an entity, and will stop working if that entity ever moves, a DOI will persist. It is therefore more stable than the URL, and offers more possibilities for linking between online resources.

14.6 Links: the left-hand pane

The left-hand pane of the article page contains navigation links.

The left hand pane of the article page

  1. The article headword: click here to return to the top of the article
  2. The contributor: click to see all the article written by the contributor
  3. Co-subjects: if the article contains co-subjects, they appear here. Click on the name to go to the co-subject section.
  4. Subheads in the article: Longer articles are broken into headed sections. Click to move around the article
  5. References: click to see the references section in list form in a separate window.
  6. See also: any cross-references in the article also appear here. Click to go to the target article.
  7. DNB archive: click here to see the article from the original DNB in a separate window.
  8. Other online resources: deep links to external resources.

Links under the Themes heading are to Oxford DNB themes. Where the subject of the biography is a member of a reference list or group, a link to that theme appears here, enabling quick access to related biographies.

The DNB archive contains the text of the original Dictionary of National Biography as it appeared in the 1908-9 reissue of the original 1885-1901 edition (along with articles from more recent supplementary volumes; see the Introduction for the full history.) The reissue incorporated the correction of some errors from the first edition, and the revision of some bibliographies.

If there is more than one DNB archive link, it may mean that subject and co-subjects appeared in different articles; or that the person appeared, by mistake, twice in the original DNB.

Other online resources are 'deep' links to selected, authoritative resources available on the web. Deep links link directly from an Oxford DNB biography to the page in the target resource relevant to the subject of that biography (and not simply to that resource's home page).

Currently linked resources are:

The addition of deep links to the Oxford DNB is a work in progress. Though there are currently over 30,000 such links, not all Oxford DNB subjects are yet linked to the corresponding records in our partner resources.

14.7 Navigation: the top bar

The grey bar above the article text contains navigation links.

If you have arrived at an article from a results list or by browsing, the previous and next articles in your list will appear to the left and right. Click on them to move back or forward in your results list. To go back to your results list, click on Back to results list at the right of the orange bar.

If you have arrived at an article by following a cross-reference, the article from which you came appears as the previous article at the left of the grey bar. Click on it to return. (If you have followed a whole chain of cross-references, each will appear in the grey bar in turn, enabling you to retrace your steps.)

If you have arrived at an article by following a link from a theme article, the previous and next articles in the grey bar will be the previous and next articles listed in the theme. This facility enables you to step through all the people who feature in a theme list, for example, without returning to the theme article. (The orange bar above the grey bar contains a link that will return you to the theme.)

14.8 Print an article

Print an article by clicking the print icon at the far left of the grey bar.

A printer-friendly version of the article will appear. Use your browser's print function to print.

14.9 Email an article

Email an article by clicking on the email icon on the grey bar.

When you click on the email icon, a form will appear, with fields for the recipient's name and address, your own name and address, and a text field for any message you would like to add.

Use the buttons at the foot of the form to choose how to send the article.

14.10 Cite an article

The standard Oxford DNB form for citing an article appears at the foot of each article, and should be used as the default form for citing Oxford DNB articles.

For details of the conventions used in the citation, see the Publication details.

Forms for citing articles in the conventions of the Chicago manual of style and Modern Language Association (MLA) may be seen in the cite pop-up. Open the pop-up by clicking on the cite icon at the left of the grey navigation bar.

15 Themes

The Themes mode provides a different perspective again on the biographies in the Oxford DNB, by grouping them thematically. There are three types of theme:

All themes comprehensively cross-refer to biographies in the Oxford DNB. It is intended that they stand both as reference material in their own right, as well as introductions to useful or interesting sets of biographies in the Oxford DNB.

15.1 Themes home

Themes home presents our selection of interesting or topical themes.

15.2 List all themes

The List all themes page is the index to the themes. Each theme is annotated to show its type. Click on a theme to read it. Use the Reorder panel to order the themes in alphabetical or chronological order. The Only show panel enables you to refine the list of themes by:

15.3 The theme page

A theme uses similar conventions of layout as a standard biographical article in the dictionary.

Reference lists, though not illustrated, use illustration icons to show the presence of illustrations in the Oxford DNB; click on each icon to see that illustration.

Themes contain many more cross-references than standard biographies; not all of these will appear in the left hand column. Click on each blue cross-reference link to go to the biography of that person.