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Help and Search Tips

INITIALE proposes two search functions:

Simple search: allows searches in all fields of the catalogue records in one of four principal blocks of data: Manuscript, Decoration, Person, or Bibliography. The simple search operates by complete words only. A default Boolean operator between the words is AND.

Advanced search: allows searches by fields corresponding to specific data in the catalogue records.

Advanced search is provided by fives tabs:

Each tab opens a specific search form.

The advanced search forms allow you to multiply and combine the criteria of each search field. Click on the sign “+” on the right of the field in order to open it again and select a Boolean operator of your choice; ‘AND’, ‘OR’, ‘AND NOT’.

The data is written and organised using a controlled vocabulary.

Each field of the search form is provided with an index (an alphabetic list of all terms used in the record field), or a thesaurus (a list of terms hierarchically organised under a generic top term and including rejected or associated terms).

ATTENTION! Only the exact term included in the search form will give results. You can search the data base in two different ways:

1. By directly including a word or a group of words preceded or followed by the truncation character (% or *). This equals a phrase: “contains the word(s)”. A word-completion activates at the second character.

2. By using an Index or a Thesaurus that opens in a separate pop-up window. The window includes a filter field. You can search in the filter field by words or groups of words. Your results will show a list of entries with the searched term highlighted in yellow. The Thesaurus displays a hierarchy of terms (default Thesaurus option) or a list of terms in the alphabetical order (Index option).

Differences between Index and Thesaurus:

IMPORTANT: a term selected in an Index or directly included in a search field will only give as results the records containing the exact selected term.

Example. If you include the term “Droit” (Law) in the Classification (Manuscript tab), you will receive as results only the manuscripts entries in which “Droit” was indicated in the Classification field, but not those, where the Classification was indicated as “Droit civil” (Civil law) or “Droit canon” (Canon law).

You can expand your search by using the truncation character (% or*): “Droit%” in order to obtain “Droit civil” and “Droit canon.”

Thesaurus has two main functions:

Example. If you search the generic term “fleur” (flower) in the Keywords thesaurus of the Decoration tab, your results will include all identified flowers, such as “ancolie”, “muguet”, “œillet”, “rose”, etc.

Navigating in the Thesaurus

Each term of the Thesaurus is situated within a hierarchy. You can consult it either by starting with the Top terms, or by using a filter.

Starting with the Top terms: a “+” sign placed before the term gives access to specific terms. Associated terms are introduced by the abbreviation “TA”. Synonyms (rejected terms) are in italics. Click on the term to see its place in the hierarchy and/or its associations. The parent-term is always positioned above and the rejected and associated terms are listed below.

A button “Back to the consultation list” allows you to return either to the hierarchy of the term or to the results of the filter search.

The term can be selected when it is accompanied by the icon of a magnifier .

When a Thesaurus term is included in a search form, a warning on the activation of the Thesaurus is displayed in the bottom of the screen. You must delete it before your next search or reset the form.


The results are displayed as a paginated list or as a mosaic (). Click on a column title to activate an alphanumeric ‘sort by’ functionality. The default order is the one in the reference column.

The ‘sort by’ functionality is not available in the mosaic display.

Click on the arrow in the list of results or on the image in the mosaic display to access the catalogue record. Each entry opens in a new tab. The button “Results 1/…” on the top right side of the screen allows you to browse the entries following the order of the list.

The records include hypertext links to other entries in INITIALE, or to external on-line resources. The links in “Keywords” and “Subjects” in Decoration records and in “Keywords” in Bibliography open lists of results with other occurrences of the same term. The links always open in new tabs.

List of the abbreviations in INITIALE: click here

NB: Truncation character is % or *.

Default Boolean operator between the fields is AND.

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