Document Viewer Guide
This website contains over 1.3 million pages of declassified documents and reports. Whether arriving at a document via search, browsing the collection hierarchy, or following a link, you read these document pages using the document viewer.
This tool has many features, including the expected:
- Navigate to other pages in the document
- Adjust magnification
- Rotate the page orientation
- Access table of contents if there is one
- Download a PDF copy of the document (Pro members only)
It also has some less-obvious features:
- Convert well-formed references in the page (e.g., WR250) into clickable links
- See what text the computer's search engine sees on this page
- View RIF sheet as a form, with many "more like this document" links
This tutorial provides a walkthrough of these features.
QUICK LINKS TO TOPICS ON THIS PAGE
- Header: Breadcrumbs, Title, PDF
- Tabs: Table of Contents, Document View, RIF Form
- Table of Contents Tab
- Document View Tab: Navigation Bar
- Document View Tab: Toolbar
- Document ViewTab : Page Image
- RIF Form Tab
- For More Information
Also see the sidebar for Quick Tips, Advanced Features, and the Keyboard Interface.
Header: Breadcrumbs, Title, PDF
Between the banner at the top of the browser window, and the frame surrounding the page, every document has the following:
- Breadcrumb trail
- Title and optional subtitle
- PDF link
Breadcrumb trail. The breadcrumb trail shows you where this document lives in the hierarchy of documents. Each position is a link to the listing page for all documents in that "document set."
Title and optional subtitle. Every document has a title. For documents which have a table of contents, which includes most reports, the subtitle of the currently-viewed section is also displayed.
PDF link. In the upper-right of the header section is an icon labeled "PDF version", which links to the Adobe Portable Document Format version of the document. It is labeled with the size of the PDF file in Kilobytes (e.g., 422K). Click the link to download or view (depending on your web browser and its settings) a PDF copy of the document. Note that this feature is available only to Pro members.
Tabs: Table of Contents, Document View, RIF Form
The top portion of the frame surrounding the document page contains from 1 to 3 tabs, depending on the document:
- Table of Contents
- Document View
- RIF Form
Table of Contents. The Table of Contents, if present, switches the page view to a listing of the document's sections and subsections. scroll down for more info »
Document View. The Document View shows scanned document pages. This view is present for all documents. scroll down for more info »
RIF Form. The RIF Form tab is present for all documents which have Resource Identification Form pages, created by the National Archives. The form will usually be the first page in the document, but this tab presents the same data as an actual form, showing each form field and its value. A third column present for most fields lets you click a link to run a special search, which then shows you all documents with a matching value in that field. scroll down for more info »
Table of Contents Tab
Reports and some other documents feature a table of contents which can help navigate them.
Each entry in the table of contents list has the subtitle of a given section—this is a clickable link to the page which begins that section. You may also click the plus sign next to a section to open up a set of clickable page numbers within that section.
When viewing a document page, the title in the header will be followed by a subtitle. This subtitle is the name of the current section from the table of contents.
Document View Tab: Navigation Bar
The navigation bar provides three distinct functions:
- Navigate to other pages in this document
- Adjust page magnification
- Search within this document
Navigate to other pages. Navigation to other pages is easy:
- Click one of the arrows to go to previous or next page, OR
- Use the dropdown to select a page by its label
Adjust page magnification. The page magnification may be adjusted in several ways:
- Click the minus or plus icons to zoom in (plus) or out (minus)
- Use the slider to adjust magnification smoothly
- Click the "fit width" icon to make the page width fit exactly
The page magnification setting is "sticky" from one page/document to the next.
Search within this document.The search box in the navigation bar runs a search limited to pages in the current document. Type in a word or phrase and hit Enter or click the "Search Document" link.
Document View Tab: Toolbar
The toolbar to the left of the page image provides 6 icons that do the following:
- Rotate page counter-clockwise
- Rotate page 180 degrees
- Rotate page clockwise
- View searchable text on page
- Auto-link references in page
- Printable page
Rotate page. The top three icons are used to rotate the current page image. Sometimes pages are mis-rotated by default, and you can use this tool to correct that problem. Some pages have handwritten marginalia which runs in a different direction than the rest of the page. For whatever reason, these three icons allow you to adjust the orientation to whatever you need.
View searchable text on page. This icon lets you "see what the computer sees" on the page. The search engine powering the website is driven by the text that the computer is able to recognize on the page. This "optical character recognition" (OCR) is not as good as a human's ability, especially for those documents which are handwritten or very faint or otherwise just hard to read. Using this feature can help you predict what the computer is likely to see and help you fine-tune your searches to catch as many hits as possible given imperfect OCR.
Auto-link references in page. JFK assassination documents often refer to one another using references which follow particular patterns. Here are a few examples:
- WR116 (Warren Report, page 116)
- 6WH451 (Warren Hearings volume 6, page 451)
- AR250 (HSCA Assassinations Reort, page 250)
- 104-10400-10117 (RIF document with record number 104-10400-10117)
Click this icon, and any such references on a page automatically are converted to underlined hyperlinks, which you can click on to immediately view the referenced document or page. This setting is "sticky" - turn it on once and it will stay on until you turn it off.
Printable page. If you want to print a page without all the window dressing around it, click this link to put the page into a separate browser window. If you want to print an entire document, use the PDF link and print the PDF copy (requires Pro membership).
Document ViewTab : Page Image
The page image itself is mainly for reading—you use the navigation bar and toolbar to manipulate it. Note the following, though:
Portion of page showing
yellow highlight on search term
"David Atlee Phillips".
- Drag horz-scroll. If you are zoomed in on the page, you can scroll left or right by dragging the page image with your mouse (you may also use the horizontal scrollbar that will appear). Within the MFF frame, the page's height will grow as tall as needed - use the browser's vertical scrollbar to see the entire page as always.
- Search highlights. If you arrived at this page via search, the terms you searched for will usually be highlighted in yellow (this feature does not always work, depending on the complexity of the search term).
- OCR text overlay. If you use the "view searchable text" feature, red OCR text will appear overlaid atop the normal page text.
- Links to well-formed references. If you use the "auto-link references" feature, underlined links will appear below linked text.
RIF Form Tab
Documents which have a National Archives Record Identification Form (RIF) feature an extra tab labeled "RIF Form". Clicking this tab shows a view of the form with three columns:
- RIF Field Name. RIF field name (e.g., Agency, Record Number, From, To, Subjects, etc.)
- Value. This document's value for the given field
- ALL WITH ... For most fields, "ALL WITH ..." links, which launch a search for all documents with the same value in that RIF field.