We describe below how to find where volume and page breaks occur in the original printed edition published in 1986, how to use search options, how documentary citations are listed, and how to report problems and to request more help in using the Web edition of the Founders' Constitution.
Printing and page numbers
Each document in the Web edition of the Founders' Constitution is presented in a version for the screen and in an easy-to-print version. The screen version includes navigation links in the left column. In the print version we mark in light gray type page breaks as they occur in the original printed edition of the Founders' Constitution.
How to search the Founders' Constitution
All of the documents in the Founders' Constitution, with the exceptions of the Editors' "Reader's Advisory," "Introduction," and "Note on References," have been indexed for searching.
A simple search using the search form's default settings for search options returns every document that contains all of the words entered into the search terms field. Searches are not case sensitive. Search results are not sensitive to the order in which search terms are entered (as they are for some Internet search engines). In addition to exact matches, all searches including simple searches return documents containing variations of the search terms formed by adding common word endings to each of the terms.
While a simple search may be adequate for many purposes, the options on the search form allow you to refine the search either by casting a wider net through phonetic matching, for example, or by narrowing the search through Boolean logic. You can control the breadth of you search by using the "match" and "search type" options. A third option, "sort by", allows you to set the order in which results are returned. We describe each option in turn below.
All vs. Any--When the "all" option is selected, a search will return only documents that contain every word entered into the search terms field. Similarly, when the "any" option is selected, a search will return documents that contain one or more of the search words.
Boolean Logic--Combinations of words together with the three Boolean operators "and", "or", and "not" can be used to refine searches. Conditions can be grouped with parentheses. The search "(benjamin and franklin) or (george and washington)" returns only documents containing both "benjamin" and "franklin", or "george" and "washington". Because the "or" is inclusive rather than exclusive, this search would return documents that contain, for example, "benjamin", "franklin", and either "george" or "washington" or both or neither.
Words--Words-- In addition to returning documents containing exact matches of the words entered in the search phrase, a "word" search also returns documents containing variations on those words, such as plurals and verb form endings.
Words sounding like--Because the Editors retained the spelling of words as they appear the original documents, it is not uncommon to find what to modern readers are misspelled words or to find variations on the spellings of proper names. We compensate for this by employing fuzzy word matches based on two algorithms--soundex and metaphone--that are used to represent words phonetically. Both algorithms assume that the language being represented is English.
A phonetic search for documents containing "Franklin" will return documents containing the variation "Franklyn". Similarly, a search for the word "five" returns documents containing the misspelled variation "ffive". Franklin spells "clothes" as "cloaths" in "Information to Those Who Would Remove to America." A phonetic search on the former returns the latter as well. However, the algorithms have their limitations. Abbreviations, of course, are not expanded. And non-phonetic spelling variations will not be matched. For example, a search for "person" will not match "pson", the spelling of that word in the "Maryland Act Concerning Religion."
Sort by--Results scoring
Several factors determine the score assigned to search results. The frequency of the word in the database, its position in the document, whether it appears in the title, and kind of match all contribute to the score. An exact match in the title or early in the document receives a higher score than a metaphone match or a match towards the bottom of the document.
As in the printed edition, an abbreviated citation appears at the start of each document. In this Web edition, we have added a full citation at the end of each document. Documentary citations given in short-title forms as "Life," "Papers," "Works," etc., are to be understood as referring to editions of the author of that particular document. Exceptions are clearly noted.
Getting more help
If pages do not display properly in your browser or you encounter dead links or other problems when reading the Web edition of the Founders' Constitution, please send an email message to email@example.com. Please describe in your message the browser you are using and its version, e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0, the operating system you are using, e.g. Windows 98, and the kind of Internet connection you have, e.g. connected on college campus or through AOL.
Please note that the Editors have retained the spelling of words as they appeared in the original documents. To modern readers many words will appear to be misspelled. Although this "feature" complicates searching, misspelled words rarely are typographical errors and should not be reported.