How to find items in newspapers

Finding newspaper articles, images and more using databases and indexes

Find articles by topic

News articles or reports can be found by searchable online or digital news archives, often also called databases. These can be searched by keywords, author or title (i.e. headline). Searches can usually be limited to a specific date range, and to a particular newspaper, or group of newspapers. However not all newspapers are available in this format. See Databases explained for more information.

Newspapers in online formats often only contain the text of news articles, but not the original newspaper layout and pictorial content. The ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream is a good example. Alternatively, some online newspapers are virtual replicas of the original printed editions such as Trove historical Australian newspapers.

If no searchable online or electronic news archive is available then there may be a newspaper index which can be used. These are normally in printed form, sometimes on cards. A small number are available online. Newspaper indexes are a list of items in a newspaper, usually news reports, but sometimes personal notices or names. See Newspaper indexes for a guide.

Find by author

Most newspaper databases generally allow a search by author, often called the 'by-line'. This can be a useful method for searching if you are interested in all the articles by a particular journalist or columnist on a particular topic.


This example is an author search using the "advanced search" on  ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream

Proquest ANZ newsstand

Find by date

Most newspaper archives allow searches to be limited by date. This can be useful if you know the approximate date already and you want to find your item quickly.

Date limits can be anything from one day, several days, months or a span of years. It is especially useful if looking for an article on a topic which is in the news constantly.

Some newspaper archives also allow a 'browse by date' option which can be used for checking the news on a particular day, or for finding an item if you know the exact day or week  it was published but not many other details. Letters to the editor are often found this way.

Below is an example of the "Limit to date range" option using the "advanced search" on  ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream

Find by name or phrase

A name search or phrase search can usually be made in most searchable newspaper archives. Try putting  the name or phrase in quotation marks, and combine it with a phrase, e.g. "Kevin Rudd" and "climate change". Add a date limit, e.g. 2008 and other keywords, e.g carbon tax,  to narrow your search further.

This is an example of a phrase search using the "basic search" on  ProQuest Australia & New Zealand Newsstream

Proquest ANZ newsstand phrase search

Popular newspaper archives

Popular historical archives

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