Discovery help Sorting and filtering your search results

Sorting can help you to:

  • pick out the results that match your search criteria most closely
  • make a large number of results easier to work with

1. Simple and detailed view options

In the records tab you can display your search results in ‘detailed’ or ‘simple’ view. Click on these options at the top of the results list to move between them.

Detailed view is the default way that your results will be displayed. Each result includes the title and usually a short description of the record.

Simple view shows more search results per page and is useful if you have a long list of search results.

2. Sort results by relevance, reference, date or title

If you have less than 10,000 results to your search you can sort them using the ‘sorted by’ menu at the top of the results list. Initially this will only show ‘Relevance’ but if you click on it you will see other ways you can choose to sort your results.

If you have too many results to be able to sort them, use the filtering options on the left of the results page to reduce their number. Alternatively, you can search again using additional or alternative keywords and/or other criteria like dates or references if you know them.
Results can be sorted according to:

  • relevance – this is the default setting (all results are automatically displayed by relevance) and is based on the frequency with which your search terms appear in the titles and descriptions of results along with other calculations run by the Discovery search engine
  • reference (record reference) – useful if you are looking at records which are arranged in a sequential order, such as alphabetically by surname or in numerical order
  • date – ascending or descending – useful if you are browsing by dates
  • title – ascending or descending (title of the record or file rather than the
  • description of the files) – useful if records are arranged by name ranges

3. Filtering your results on the ‘Records’ tab

You can use the ‘Filter results’ function on the left hand side of your initial search results to focus and narrow them down if you have too many.

Use the ‘Held by’ filter option to choose records held either at The National Archives or records held elsewhere. By choosing either option a further set of filters will come up allowing you to refine your results even further (see below).

Use the ‘Date’ filter option to select records that fall within the date ranges shown. The number of records that falls into each date range is shown in brackets.

Records held by The National Archives – more filter options

This enables you to choose records held either at The National Archives or records held elsewhere. By choosing either option a further set of filters will come up allowing you to refine your results even further.

More filter options for records held at The National Archives

If you select ‘The National Archives’ in the ‘Held by’ filter, additional search filters appear allowing you to filter results by:

Records held by The National Archives – more filter options

If you select ‘The National Archives’ in the ‘Held by’ filter, additional search filters appear allowing you to filter results as shown below.

You can choose to only show results where the records are viewable online

Date

Choose a date range that will cover the date the record was created

Collection

Choose to only show results from specific collections (usually relating to individual central government departments)

Catalogue level

Choose to search for records at piece or item level only

Closure status

Choose to search for records that are either open to the public or those that are closed. Where records are closed you can make a Freedom of Information request.

Record opening date

Choose to search for records according to when they were opened to the public

Records held by other archives – more filter options

Date

Choose to search for records depending on when they were created

Held by

Choose to search for records held at specific archives

Filtering your results on the ‘Record creators’ tab

You can use the ‘Filter results’ function on the left hand side of your initial search results to focus and narrow them down.
Click one of the ‘creator types’ on the left hand side of the page to see various categories appear. The numbers of records under each creator type and category are shown in brackets.
For example, a search for Durham shows five creator types:

  • organisation
  • business
  • person (within this you can refine by gender)
  • family
  • diaries

Clicking on the business or organisation creator type the opens up numerous categories including

  • shops, merchants and distributors
  • mineral extraction
  • engineering
  • metal processing and manufacturing
  • transport and communications
  • parishes
  • labour and Trade Union movement
  • health and social care

Clicking on the person or diary creator type allows you to refine by gender type; so by male, female or ‘not stated’ where the gender of the individual is unknown.

There is no option to refine by family.