[Home] [HLAS Online Help]

[ HLAS Online Home Page | Search HLAS Online | Help | FAQ ]

Jump to a specific section or scroll down to begin:


What happens during your search?

Composing a search:

Return to the top of the page


Use BASIC SEARCH when you:

Use EXPERT SEARCH when you:

To familiarize yourself with the format of the records in the HLAS Online database, consult the Database Field Structure page. It shows a sample record and explains each field within the record.

Return to the top of the page

Basic Search

In BASIC SEARCH you can search only one field at a time. To search two or more fields at the same time, use the EXPERT SEARCH Page.

Basic Search Steps:

  1. Select a field to search (keyword, author, title, or subject).

    image of search fields

  2. Enter as many search words as you wish in the search box.

  3. Determine the maximum number of items to be returned in the results list. Accept the default value of 100 or enter any number between 1 and 5000.

  4. Click on the SEARCH button.

Basic Search Results:

Basic Searching Tip:

Return to the top of the page

Expert Search

The EXPERT SEARCH Page allows you to search more than one field at a time. To search only one field at a time and get a results list of records arranged in order of relevance, use the BASIC SEARCH Page. If you do not know in which fields your search words are likely to occur, we suggest using the BASIC SEARCH Page's KEYWORD search option.

Expert Search Steps:

  1. Enter your search word(s) in one or more of the fielded search boxes (subject, author, title, annotation/chapter introduction).

  2. Click on YES or NO to indicate whether search words are required or not.

    image of expert search boxes

    For example, if you choose subject: SOR JUANA and author: OCTAVIO PAZ and you want them both to appear in the indicated field in every record, you must choose the Required: YES option for both fields. If you are looking specifically for items about SOR JUANA and out of curiosity you want to know if OCTAVIO PAZ wrote anything on the subject, choose Required: YES for the subject field and Required: NO for the author field (see example above).

  3. Determine the maximum number of items to be returned. Either accept the default value of 100 or enter a number between 1 and 5000.

  4. Click on the SEARCH button.

Expert Search Results:

Expert Searching Tips

Return to the top of the page


Note: You can only use this search option on the BASIC SEARCH Page.


The KEYWORD SEARCH examines all the fields of a record at the same time: Bibliographic Citation (author, title, and publication information), Annotation, Subject Headings, Related Names, HLAS item number, and special fields such as monographic series title (volume 50 forward).

How do I use the KEYWORD SEARCH?

What parts of a record can only be searched using the KEYWORD option?

How can I do a more precise search?

Return to the top of the page


An author is the person, institution, or conference responsible for creating a work. Most HLAS records were written by one or more authors, and their names are searchable using the AUTHOR field. Names of other people involved in preparing a work (i.e., editors, compilers, collaborators, translators, photographers, etc.) are listed after the title, and are searchable in the TITLE field. Since volume 50 the most important of these RELATED NAMES (i.e., editors, compilers, collaborators) are also searchable in the AUTHOR field. (See the HLAS Database Field Structure help page for more information.)

How do I search the database using author names?

Return to the top of the page


You can search the TITLE field using BASIC SEARCH and EXPERT SEARCH. Enter a complete title or partial title in order to retrieve the desired record. You may need to use the TITLE option to search for names of persons other than authors who helped prepare a work for publication (i.e., editors, compilers, translators, collaborators, illustrators, and so forth).

How do I search using title words?

Title Searching Tips:

Return to the top of the page


The SUBJECT field is included in more than 75% of all HLAS Online records.You can do subject searches using BASIC and EXPERT SEARCH. Be aware that for the first 49 volumes, subject headings vary greatly. Since volume 50, effort has been made to use a standardized list of subject headings. You can browse the HLAS Subject Headings Glossary to find terms used to describe records from volume 50 onward.

How were the subject headings created?

How do I search using subjects terms?

Which language is used in the SUBJECT TERMS?

Subject Searching Tip:

It is best to search in only one language at a time since the same concept is rarely listed in more than one language in any given record. Or, using the Subject search box on the EXPERT SEARCH Page, enter the term in different languages, and choose the Required: NO option. The results list will include records that contain at least one of the search terms. (The same results are obtained using the BASIC SEARCH Page's Subject option.)
Return to the top of the page


What is an ANNOTATION?

An annotation is a commentary on and/or evaluation of the work cited. The annotations have been prepared by the Handbook's contributing editors, recognized specialists in their fields. Only those records selected for inclusion in the Handbook print edition contain annotations. Be aware that HLAS Online also includes records for future volumes which have not been annotated yet.

In what languages are the ANNOTATIONS written?

Most of the annotations are written in English. However, records dealing with Philosophy and about half of the records focusing on Spanish American Literature are prepared in Spanish. In the early volumes, annotations for some of the chapters on Brazil were prepared in Portuguese.

Who writes the ANNOTATIONS?


Each contributing editor writes an introductory essay to his/her chapter in the Handbook print edition. This essay provides an overview of works published and highlights important research trends for a particular field. Essays originally written for volumes 1-49 have been included in HLAS Online. They are indicated in the results list by the word "ESSAY:" preceding the contributing editor's surname.


Return to the top of the page



Searching the database by a JOURNAL'S Abbreviation

If you wish to search for journal articles from a particular journal, look up the abbreviation (or abbreviations, if it has been abbreviated in various ways over the years) and enter it into the BASIC SEARCH Page's Keyword box (not the Title box).

Return to the top of the page


What is the ITEM NUMBER?

The item number is an alphanumeric number assigned to every item included in HLAS Online. It provides a unique identification number for each record. The item numbers were created in two different ways.

  1. For volumes 1 to 49, the item numbers are derived from the sequential item numbers in the print version, as follows:

    reXXZZZZ or reXXa

    For example, item 2222 from the print version of volume 1 (published in 1936), would have the following item number in the HLAS Online database: re362222.

  2. For volumes 50 to the present, the item number is assigned by the Library of Congress. Notice that these ITEM NUMBERS do not match the sequential item numbers found in the print editions. If you consult the same bibligraphic citation in the HLAS Online database and in the print version, the two numbers will be different. The HLAS Online item numbers for volume 50 to present are formed as follows:


How to search the database for an ITEM NUMBER

On the BASIC SEARCH Page, select the KEYWORD option and enter the item number in the box. Click the "Search" button and the system will bring up the identified record. For volumes 50 to the present, notice that there is a space between the prefix bi and the actual number.

Return to the top of the page


The print edition of the Handbook alternates yearly between the humanities and social sciences. Each volume is divided into different disciplines such as art, literature, economics, etc. Each discipline is further subdivided by region, country, or time period. A contributing editor specializing in the particular discipline and country (or region) is assigned to write annotations for one or more of the subsections.

What do the Alphanumeric Codes mean?

Each of the subsections has a unique ALPHANUMERIC CODE. For example, Mesoamerican Ethnohistory is HLB3000. From volume 50 onward, each record selected for the print edition has been assigned an alphanumeric code based on the subject matter of the work cited in the record.

How do I search using this field?

Enter your selection in the last search box on the EXPERT SEARCH Page. There are two ways to search this field: using the contributing editor's surname or using a chapter's alphanumeric code.

When would I want to search using this field?

Searching Tips:

Return to the top of the page


Records included in the database contain some or all of the following fields (see example below):

Example of a complete record with all fields:

Return to the top of the page

Go to the help section about:

Link to the Spanish language version of the help page.
Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian (06/07/2011)