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Document Viewer Guide

This website contains over 2 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:

It also has some less-obvious features:

This tutorial provides a walkthrough of these features.


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. 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. 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. Navigation to other pages is easy:

Adjust page magnification. The page magnification may be adjusted in several ways:

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. 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:

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).

Note to users of Internet Explorer 8. Users of Windows XP may be running Internet Explorer version 8 (IE8), which does not have all the features of modern web browsers. For IE8 users, only one of these 6 toolbar icons - printable page - is available. Such users are encouraged to try using the Firefox or Chrome browsers, which are available for free download. Also note that this website does not support Internet Explorer versions 7 and earlier - the site will behave sluggishly and with visual problems in these very old browsers.

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".

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:

For More Information

See also the How to Search page and the general Help page. If you have further questions or suggestions for this page, email the MFF using the Contact Us link in the footer of this page.

Quick Tips

1. Table of Contents. Reports usually have a detailed table of contents, available via the Table of Contents tab.

2. "Fit width" zoom level. Find the zoom level that you like best, or use the "fit width" icon to always show exactly 100% of the document.

3. Jump to page. Use next and previous page arrows when reading, but also note the dropdown to jump to any page in the document.

4. Within-document search. You can limit your search to just the current document using the search box in the navigation bar.

5. RIF Form view. The RIF Form tab is a great way to find other similar documents.

Advanced Features

1. Auto-linked references. The "Auto-link refs" toolbar icon turns on auto-linking for well-formed references to commonly-cited reports, Warren Commission documents and exhibits, and RIF record numbers.

2. Searchable text. Another toolbar icon lets you see the text the computer sees, which can let you know why a search failed and help you design better search terms given imperfect computer text recognition of poor-quality page images.

3. PDF Documents. With a Pro membership, you can download PDF copies of documents for offline viewing and printing.

See the relevant section of this page for more information on these and other features.

Keyboard Interface

Use these keys as shortcuts to common functions:


  • T or t  Table of Contents tab
  • D or d  Document View tab
  • R or r  RIF Form tab


  • ] or }  Next page
  • [ or }  Previous page


  • < or ,  Rotate counter-clockwise
  • > or .  Rotate clockwise

Zoom and pan:

  • + or =  Zoom in
  • - or _  Zoom out
  • F or f  Zoom to "fit width"
  • Left arrow  Pan left
  • Right arrow  Pan right

Note that these keystrokes will not work if you have clicked in a search box.

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