This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about Orlando and is meant to assist with troubleshooting. For more in-depth guidance, consult Get Started and/or the page-specific Help content available via the question-mark icon on many pages of the site.


Q: Is there any kind of index to Orlando material?

A: The project is indexed in a range of ways accessed by our various search tools. The Browse catalogue entry point takes you to lists of key categories of textbase material. For example, Author Profiles identifies all profiles about writers across historical periods and genres, while lists of all the people (including many writers, historical figures, and literary critics) who don't have profiles but are mentioned in the textbase are available via the People category. Similarly, lists of all tagged organizations, events, and bibliographic sources in Orlando can be accessed via their respective Browse categories. 

You can find subjects in a range of ways. Tag Search and Search Results allow you to filter by various contexts such as periodical publication, theme, education, and political affiliation. Information about the XML tags and attributes we use to develop and filter Orlando’s content can be found in the discussion of markup in the Introduction, Tag Diagrams, and Tag Glossary.


Search results

Q. How does Orlando’s Search feature work?

A: The Search options and results in the current interface differ from those of the old Orlando textbase, and we’ll continue to refine them and our information on how to use them in the months ahead.

To begin a search, enter a search string with one or more words, including names and titles. Note that searching for a longer phrase (multiple words) may be less comprehensive than you would expect, as it is looking for that specific string of text and if that string is fragmented by xml markup not tagged, the system will not return the result. Note, too, it does not yet respond to Boolean operators (e.g. AND, NOT, OR, parentheses, and quotation marks). Search doesn't handle stemming with *, but it does its own stemming: so instead of typing, for example, politic* in the Search box, simply type politic and the term’s variations will be taken into account.

The system will return search results that can be navigated and changed in several ways. You can navigate them using their default order, Relevance, whose results are ranked by number of occurrences of the search string, both in the visible text of the document and the invisible ones (i.e. in the attribute values of tags, etc.) or changing it to alphabetical or reverse-alphabetical order, or to chronological or reverse-chronological order. You can narrow results by using the Refine panel and selecting options from one or more content categories, such as Result type, Author gender, Historical period, and/or one or more of Orlando’s tags. (To learn more about them, explore the discussion of markup in the Introduction, Tag Diagrams, and Tag Glossary).

However you choose to explore your results, they will include snippets of prose from the textbase, usually with your search string highlighted. Where snippets are repeated, it's because more than one hit (i.e. occurrence of the searched term or tag) is found within that snippet. Sometimes no term is highlighted in the snippet: this can happen either because of stemming (e.g. you searched for ‘politic’ and the returned snippet contains ‘politically’) or because the search term is not in the visible part of the snippet. (i.e. “hiding” in a scholar note or the XML markup)

Q. Why don't I see my search term in the results?

A. A search term may not be viewable in results for various reasons. It may be hiding behind an icon for a bibliographic citation or a scholarly note and become visible when the icon is clicked. It may be in the additional prose belonging to an event that becomes visible when the full event is viewed. Or it may be embedded in the attributes (descriptive components) of tags that only become visible when the the XML markup is viewed. Occasionally glitches in how content interacts with search produce too few results (especially in the case of authors’ names, including those with but also sometimes those without accents) or too many results. Such errors when we become aware of them are corrected in our regular content updates.

Matches are not highlighted when stemming is involved (e.g. you searched for ‘politic’ and the returned snippet contains ‘politically’) or within the Timelines search.

Tag search

Q. How do Search and Tag Search differ?

A. A regular search starts broad, looking for a match or close match to the word or words entered into the search box. Faceting via the Refine panel then narrows down the results by looking for instances of those words within the parameters of the facet, if that facet draws on a tag (e.g. Genre, Nationality). For instance, a search for ‘smallpox’ will yield more than 200 results of smallpox captured in different tags across the textbase, which can then be narrowed by Result types, Author characteristics, Tag contexts in which the result is found, and specific Locations associated with authors. 

A Tag Search targets a specific tag from the outset, with or without a search term, and provides results from across the textbase that match the specific criteria (the tag alone, or the tag + search term). Faceting then looks for a co-occurence of the search criteria with the Tag selected in the facet. That is, the term and/or tag specified in the Tag facet needs to be inside the Tag specified in the initial search.

A tag search on ‘smallpox’ within the tag Health will provide you with more than 30 results that can be narrowed, as with the regular search, by Result types, Author characteristics, and specific Locations associated with authors. Using the Refine panel to facet on the Cause of death Tag will reveal the handful of writers who died of the disease. Faceting on tags in which the word “smallpox” does not occur will yield no results.

Tag search options

Q: Why, in the Tag Search on the Cultural Formation tag, is there a collection of fixed attribute values on the Class and Gender tags but not on any of the others, such as Race and Colour?

A: It is hugely difficult to devise a standard set of terms for any of the categories within the Cultural Formation tag, given that they are socially constructed, continually changing, and contested. 

For Race, Colour, and Ethnicity, in particular, the team felt that a fixed attribute values might be wrongly taken to imply the stability or naturalness in the terms employed: for these we have not attempted to standardize terms, but have used those that seem most appropriate to particular historical periods and individuals. Users have to search on the Race, Colour, or Ethnicity tags without specifying any text, or to devise their own search terms; this will hopefully constitute a reminder of the arbitrariness of such terms. 

For Religion, we have also left the terms used open but tried to use terms, or use attributes to include terms, on which people are most likely to search, such as Anglican or atheist. 

For Class and Gender, author profiles also employ in the prose of the tag whatever descriptors are most appropriate to the context. In addition, we felt in this case that we could also provide attributes (Self-Defined, Social Rank, and Gender Identity) that gave a rough breakdown of social groupings and identity categories that applied, with greater or lesser degrees of relevance, across the historical periods covered by the project, since such groupings might be of use to users. When none of these terms are appropriate, the attribute has not been used. 

Also available in the Cultural Formation tag are 'issues' tags which can encode substantial discussions that spring from Class, Gender, Nationality, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, and Sexuality.

Core vs content tags

Q: What is a "core" tag as opposed to a "content" tag?

A: Core tags occur across all content types (author profiles, contextual material, bibliography), flagging the occurrence of names of people, organization names, dates, titles of texts, and places. These tags are the basis of the project's hyperlinking. 

Content tags, on the other hand, flag particular contexts within the textbase. Mostly restricted to either Biography or Writing sections of author profiles, they encode more varied material. Some have fairly factual content -- like Birth, Death, Earnings (literary), and Remuneration (non-literary) -- but many (for example, Responses to texts, Motives for writing, Politics, and Violence) are much more interpretive than the core tags in a couple of ways. For one thing, there is unavoidable conceptual overlap between some of the tags. For instance, what one reader interprets as a generalized Influence exerted on an author, another may interpret specifically as Intertextuality. For another, much of the material in documents might reasonably call for more than one tag, but the nature of our encoding often enforces, particularly in Biography sections of profiles, use of only a single content tag at a time. For instance, when Mary Augusta Ward's immense sales and high literary earnings allowed her to move to a grander house and entertain distinguished people, this material could plausibly be placed within a tag for Wealth, or for Location, or for Leisure and Society -- all within the Biography section of her profile -- or within a tag for Circulation or for Earnings within the Writing section. 

The person writing her profile therefore had to make complex conceptual choices which have implications for how it can be searched or filtered as well as its style.

Tags: hyperlinked names

Q: Why are some names not hyperlinked, while others are?

A: Some names are not hyperlinked in profiles and events because they have not been tagged with a Name tag. This is because, in the judgment of the tagger, the name either occurs too close to a tagged instance of that name to need tagging again, or is the name of someone who is highly unlikely to recur anywhere else in Orlando. Names that appear more than once are generally tagged once each time they occur in a high-level content tag such as Friends and Associates or Responses but not every time they occur.

Author profiles

Principles of selection

Q. How does the Orlando Project choose the subjects of its author profiles?

A: Orlando covers writers with literary value (those who offer a worthwhile reading experience to today’s user) or historical significance (whose writing was/is innovative, or achieved even short-lived fame or success, or represented or interestingly challenged some trend or movement).

Clearly these principles do not foster clear-cut demarcation or easy decision. In practice many team members keep informal lists of writers they would like to see included; graduate research assistants are regularly offered the chance to select, justify, and draft a new profile. (We owe profiles of Olive Senior and Anne Carson to this method.) Following the initial launch of Orlando in 2006, we continue to add 10 new writers in our twice-annual updates and aim to make each new batch as various as possible in terms of date, genre, and other factors. Selection is thus highly collaborative. It also leaves many writers who deserve inclusion still awaiting it.

Types of coverage

Q: Why are authors treated in different ways? Some have full profiles, some have less than full profiles, and some have no profiles of their own, though they are mentioned or discussed in timeline material or in profiles on other authors.

A: This variety reflects prioritising among a limitless range of possible inclusions. Authors with full profiles have been picked for historical or literary interest (or both; see principles of selection, above). A few treated only briefly in timeline material are candidates for full profiles in some approaching update. A few (mostly from early periods) have no biographical material because information about their lives is so sparse. Some male authors whose lives are briefly covered have selected works listed in a timeline instead of discussed in a full profile because our focus is on writing by women. Any less-than-full treatment may be revised in a future update.


Q: Why do timelines in authors’ profiles sometimes begin before their birth? (Jane Austen's profile timeline, for instance, begins in 1591 with Sir John Harington's English translation of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, just because Austen later owned a copy).

A: The expansiveness of timelines reflect the scope of our literary history. Orlando contributors have sometimes flagged comparatively minor links between writers and their environment; Jane Austen's interest in such an early text exemplifies this kind of association.

Event designations

Q: Why are events regarding women writers not always designated with the Women writers events type?

A: Some events associated with writers are given another event type designation because they have a greater significance to some other area than British women's writing. A good example of this is Queen Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837. Although our interest in her is primarily as a writer, this event is more relevant to national and international events than to British women's writing per se. Some events are also given multiple event type designations, so they will appear in results for more than one event type.

Timelines on Person and Organization entity pages

Q: Why does some material associated with people and organizations appear unconnected to them?

A: On the pages for People or Organizations (available via clicking on hyperlinks, search results, and their respective Browse Catalogue cards), the relevant entity screen will load a timeline. If an entity is tagged in the title of an event the connection will be visible (see the Abbey Theatre page) but if it is in the prose or a citation on the separate page for the event (such as those shown on Fleur Adcock’s page), it will not be. To see an event in its entirety (including its Works Cited list), simply click on it.

Bibliography and Works Cited

Q: Why are lists of authors' works not complete in their profiles?

A: Owing to the availability of standard online sources, such as the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) WorldCat and the British Library Catalogue, the team felt that Orlando could be most valuable by offering select bibliographies. In profiles, the practice is to give full listings under the Bibliography tab for all works and editions covered in some detail in the profile and for all primary and secondary works (including translations, reprints, etc.) that are cited in notes to any part of the textbase. A prolific author with 200 or 300 titles to her name may have only a couple of dozen listed in the Selected Works section of the Bibliography; on the other hand someone less active may have all of her titles listed.


Q: Why are there so many citations in profiles and events?

A: The Orlando Project exploits the capaciousness of the digital medium by providing full, granular citations of the sources used to write documents that we call bibcits (bibliographic citations), whose content appears in pop-up boxes whenever their icon, resembling a quotation mark, is clicked. This means that a researcher can pick up where we left off, rather than having to reproduce the research trail. Note that we do not cite our project itself when a fact is substantiated elsewhere in the textbase.

Links to external sources

Q: Why can't I click directly from mention of a text to an online version of that text?

A: We think it best that the result of clicking on links be predictable. Therefore, if a title of a text is hyperlinked, that will take you to other mentions of the text within Orlando. Sometimes there will be a mention in the prose or a bibliographic citation link of an online version of a text. Links to the titles or URLs of such external sources will come up in a new window so that you don't lose your place in Orlando, and in some cases you will need to find the pertinent text or section of text yourself. Orlando has been fairly conservative about creating such links, given the frustrations produced by 'link rot,’ blocked access to licensed sites, or inaccuracies in online editions.