Searching in Newspapers

Starting your search

Here's a few suggestions for starting your search in Trove's digitised newspapers:

  1. Begin with a general, broad keyword in the simple search box (don't get too specific too soon!).
  2. Refine your search using the facets on the left hand side of the screen.
  3. If necessary you can refine your search even further using more advanced techniques like phrase and exact text searching.

Start your newspaper search here, or read more information below.

Refining your search in digitised newspapers

Searches in the digitised newspapers zone return a maximum of 2000 results (that's 100 pages with 20 results per page). This limit is necessary to keep the system performing at its best.

If you need to dig deeper, you can easily refine your query to return results in smaller bundles.

You can use the facets on the left-hand side of the results screen to filter your results.

You can also click on the 'Refine search' link near the total number of results to open your query in the Advanced Search form, where you can apply a variety of limits.

For example, a search for Daintree River returns more than 2000 results. To manage your results more easily you can:

  1. Go to the left hand side of the screen and click the 'Decade' facet. A list will expand and display each decade that results were found for this search.
  2. Choose 1990-1999 to access only those articles published from 1990 to 1999 with the words Daintree River in them.
  3. When you've finished with the 1990-1999 results remove the facet limit by clicking the small red cross next to Decade, under the 'Search limited to' heading in the top left of your search results screen.
  4. Select the next decade by again scrolling down, clicking 'Decade' to expand the Decade facet and choosing 1980-1989.

A facet will only appear if there are search results found. If a Decade is missing this indicates there are no articles with your search terms in this time frame.

Using facets with digitised newspapers

An easy way to refine your search in the digitised newspapers zone is to use facets. Facets are filters that enable you to narrow down your current results.

You can find the facets on the left hand side of the search results page. The choices you have in the digitised newspapers zone are:

  • State
  • Title
  • Category
  • Illustrated
  • Decade
  • Word count

Under each of these headings you'll find a series of options, click on one to limit your current search.

A list of active filters will appear in a box near the top of the screen. To remove one of these limits, click on the small cross next to it.

Advanced search for digitised newspaper and gazettes

For advanced search functions, click the drop down beside the search box from any page in the digitised newspapers or gazettes zone.

On the advanced search page you can specify how you want your keywords to be treated. You can choose one of these or a combination:

  • An ‘all words’ search (default for simple search);
  • A phrase search;
  • An ‘any word’ search;
  • A ‘without the word/s’ search; or

You can also apply a variety of limits to your search. These include:

  • Search scope (where your keywords should appear)
  • Indexes only (gazettes only)
  • Publication date
  • Issue number or range (gazettes only)
  • Page number or range (gazettes only)
  • State and titles
  • Article category
  • Article length
  • If the article is illustrated

Publication date

Publication dates must include a year, month and day. You can select a date by clicking the small calendar, or by manually entering it in the format year-month-day (yyyy-mm-dd). If you only include a date in the ‘from’ field you'll limit your search to all articles published after that date. To search for all articles published before a particular date, enter a value in the 'to' field, but leave the 'from' field blank.

States and titles

This tool allows you to limit your search to specific locations.

To select all the newspapers or gazettes published in a particular state check the box next to the state's name. You don't need to select every individual title in that state.

To limit your search to particular titles, click [SHOW TITLES] to view all the newspapers or gazettes published in a state. Check the box next to one or more titles to include them in your search. There is a limit of 200 individual titles per search, but you can avoid this by selecting a whole state instead.

To make selection easier, you can filter the list of titles displayed by keyword and date range. Click the link [SHOW FILTERS] to open up the filter options. 

Type a word or phrase in the 'Contains the words' box to only show titles containing that phrase. For example, entering 'herald' will limit the list to titles like the Sydney Morning Herald and the Colac Herald. As you type, the number of available titles in each state will change. To remove this filter click the small cross.

To filter the list of titles by the period in which they were published, enter a timeframe or drag the sliders to set a date range.

Once you've filtered the list you can select the titles you want to include in your search either individually or by state, as described above.

To come back to your Advanced Search and modify it, click on the 'Refine Search' link. It appears next to the number of search results. 'Refine Search' will repopulate the Advanced Search form with all the same text and limits you previously applied.


Image of Trove search with refine search option circled

Phrase searching in digitised newspapers

Phrase searching in the digitised newspapers zone works a little differently than in other parts of Trove.

The good news is that for basic phrase searches you don't have to do anything special. If you enter your phrase in the simple search box, Trove will automatically push articles containing matching phrases to the top of your search results. For example:

For a bit more precision you can enclose your phrase in quotation marks. This will only return articles with close matches. However, there's still a little bit of fuzziness built in to account for some of the complexities of the newspaper text. For example:

If you're really sure what you're after, you can further limit your results by adding '~0' to your phrase search. This turns off some of the fuzziness by specifiying that you don't want any extra words within your phrase. For example:

If you'd like more information see this technical note on phrase searching.

Searches for words or names with common suffixes

Searches for words with common suffix endings like 'ed', 'er', 'est', 'ing' etc are run through a process known as stemming.  Stemming takes the beginning of the word you've typed, or the stem, then finds that word regardless of the ending or suffix. Fro example a search for the word "Mills":

The stemming process says "the stem is Mill" and lets you find mill, mills, milled, miller, millers, millicent, milling, millman etc. For most people this improves their search results, and allows them to find relevant results without trying every variation of the word they can think of. It allows searchers to get results with incorrect OCR.

If you're looking for a name that has one of these endings you may be getting less relevant results. Some surnames are particularly effected, for example if your family name is Mills then you don't want to see the Millers, Millicents or Millmans.

You can turn off stemming, and just get Mills without also getting Miller, Millicent and Millman, by preceding the search with fulltext: (no spaces)

To find a very specific phrase, turn off stemming and also turn off near search (which otherwise allows you to find "Mrs Mills" and "Mrs Edith Mills"). Add ~0 to the end of a phrase with stemming turned off
fulltext:"Mrs Mills"~0

Searching for common words as names

You can search for common words as names using a near search.

  • Use an honorific with name, for example “Mr Smith”~2, “Mrs White”~2

Note:  there should be no space between the tilde (~) and the phrase.

This will eliminate many of the search results which are unrelated to names. Adding additional terms, such as place names will also help narrow your search.

Search for hyphenated names or words

Improvements in Trove's software mean that we no longer have any special rules for indexing or searching for hyphenated words. When indexing articles in Trove, Trove sees each word as starting and ending where there is punctuation, including spaces, full stops, hyphens or other characters. Trove also sees words as starting where a character is capitalised. Both hyphenated and words identified by capitalised letters (including words that contain apostrophes) are indexed in such a way that each ‘part’ of the word is searchable separately, but searching for the complete word will still find the item.

Searching for names with apostrophes

If you are searching for a name which includes an apostrophe it needs to be included in the search, for example O'Sullivan.

Searching for items with (or without) corrections

It's easy to limit your search in the newspapers zone to articles that have corrections. Just enter 'has:corrections' in the simple search box. For example, to find corrected articles about rabbits try:

Of course, it's just as easy to find articles without corrections. Simply add a minus sign, or the word 'NOT:

Search for illustrated newspaper articles

To search for illustrated articles, put your search term(s) in the simple search box as usual. From the search results screen, select ‘Illustrated’ on the left hand side of the screen to expand the menu, then select ‘Illustrated’. Once the page has refreshed select the type of illustration (e.g. photo) from the ‘Illustration type’ menu that now appears.

Please note that display advertisements are not included these results, and may need to be searched or browsed for separately.

You may also search for illustrated articles by using the advanced search form and selecting ‘search for illustrated articles only’.

Search term in digitised newspapers not highlighted

Matched search terms in the electronically translated text are highlighted if they exactly match the terms entered. This includes any punctuation within a search term, so although a search may match ‘MacNay’, this will not be highlighted if it appears in the text as ‘Mac’Nay’. When searching for a phrase all occurrences of a term will be highlighted, this does not indicate that the search found a match on that term (for example, a phrase search including ‘and’ will highlight all occurrences of the term ‘and’, but this is not searched for as part of the phrase.

Terms are highlighted on the article image when a search term has been matched with the data originally supplied. Terms will not be highlighted on the article image if the match is to text that has been corrected.

Where an article has been matched on the originally supplied text, however this has since been corrected out, there will be a highlight on the article image, but no corresponding highlight in the electronically translated text.

Article categories

Articles are given categories to define a broad subject or type at the time of processing. The aim is to enable users to limit their searches to specific types of content only, and to aid in relevance ranking. It is not possible to change the category of an article in Trove.


Each article is assigned a category from the list below (which will assist with excluding/including items in searching):

  • Article (includes news, features articles, serials, advice columns, cartoons etc.)
  • Advertising (includes classifieds and advertisement spreads)
  • Family Notices (includes births, deaths and marriages)
  • Detailed lists, results, guides (includes casualty lists, sport and racing results, television guides etc.)

In addition illustrated articles are categorised as:

  • Illustrations
  • Photographs
  • Cartoons
  • Maps
  • Graphs
  • Trademarks


  • Appointments and employment (Appointments to government positions including probations, transfers and retirements. Appointments by government and under various Acts for a range of officers, trustees, board members etc.)
  • Budgetary papers (Government budget statements)
  • Freedom of Information (only for years covered by Acts)
  • Index and Contents (cumulative indexes and content listings for individual issues)
  • Government notices (includes land and mining notices, registers of medical etc. professionals, licencing, honours, electoral notices, trade registrations, population and trade statistics, government and colonial notices, employment advertisements, general notices and notices not included in another category)
  • Private notices (from Private Advertisement section include legal notices such as bankruptcies and estates, company registrations, local government matters and stock impounding notices)
  • Proclamations and legislation (proclamation notices and published text of some Acts and subordinate legislation and changes to text for statutory instruments including regulations, rules, by-laws, rules of the court and ordinances)
  • Tenders and contracts (including requests for tender and notifications of approved contracts)

Published indexes of newspapers

There are four main reasons why an article may not be where the index says it is:

  1. The edition of the newspaper that appears in Trove is different to the edition that was used to make the index.
  2. The page referred to in the citation is missing from Trove.
  3. The page sequence number in Trove is not the page number as it appears in the index, check the surrounding pages.
  4. The index has an incorrect citation.