How to map out your research trail.
Our animated guides and easy to follow guidance allow you to map out your research trail so your first trip to The National Archives needn't be a daunting experience.
Whether you are looking for records of a place, person or subject, your research starts with the reader's page on any of the PCs in the 'Start Here' zone.
Your searches will tell you in what format your results will be viewed: this can be online, microform or the original document itself. Records that are online can be downloaded and printed direct from your screen.
The online guidance will take you through the printing process and direct you to the printers to collect your copies. You can pay for the printing using either your reader's ticket or the pre-pay copy cards available from any of the nearby dispensing kiosks. You can also top up your reader's ticket or copy card with credit at these kiosks.
If your searches show the records you want are on microform then you will be directed to the location of the self-service machines to view those records. You can print from these machines using your reader's ticket or copy card as before.
If your searches have led to one of our documents then it is a good idea to make a note of the document reference.
Original documents can be ordered directly from your search results using the document reference and order options on the screen. You can then reserve a seat in the reading room.
Your documents will be available for you to collect from a numbered locker in the main document reading room, usually within the hour. You can read the document at your reserved seat, following the guidelines for document care.
Making copies of original documents couldn't be easier. You can copy your document on the self-service scanners in the reading rooms using your reader's ticket or copy card or you can photograph the record yourself.
Help desks are visible in the reading rooms and there's plenty of detailed advice available.
More video guides
How the records are arranged
Understand how records are arranged to help save you time and make your research more productive.
Find out how to copy, order and view the documents held by The National Archives and how to access popular records online.
Preparing to research
Find out where to look when you first start your research, and how to assemble and organise your findings to get better results.
Recording research results
Discover how to record all your results effectively so that you can find useful information again in the future.