Frequently Asked Questions

The Customer Service staff of The Washington Post online archive wants to help make your searching as trouble-free as possible. To ensure your continued satisfaction with The Washington Post online archive, we offer the following answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

What is available in the archive?
The Washington Post 1987 - Current Archive includes locally written articles from January 1987 through the present.

The Washington Post 1877 - 1995 Historical Archive includes images of stories, photos, graphics, display ads and all information as it was printed and sold in Washington D.C. on the day of publication. These articles are displayed in PDF Format which requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Article Archive is hosted by ProQuest through their ProQuest Archiver service and all purchases are processed by ProQuest.

What is not contained in the archive?
The Washington Post 1987 - Current Archive does not include advertising.

The Washington Post 1877 - 1995 Historical Archive was digitized from microfilm and a few issues are not available.

Where is the photo/illustration/chart?
Only text is included in the current archives 1987 - present. Photos, charts, illustrations and other graphics are not included. Please see What is not contained in the archives? for more information.

The historical archives (1877 - 1995) do contain many graphics, however, some photographs are blocked due to copyright concerns.

How do I purchase articles online?
Abstracts of stories are free and ProQuest handles all requests to purchase the full story through their ProQuest Archiver service.

What forms of payment are accepted for purchasing articles?
Accepted forms of payment for purchasing articles:

VISA Master Card American Express Discover/Novus
(Billed by ProQuest Archiver)

What is your refund policy?
Customers may submit an online refund request within two hours of purchase. ProQuest will refund the full purchase price provided the customer provides an explanation of why he/she is dissatisfied with the quality of the content delivered. If more than two hours has passed, customers may contact ProQuest Customer Service by email to request a refund at

Refunds for passes will be pro-rated based upon duration since purchase and usage.

No refunds can be given more than 60 days following the original purchase date.

What is ProQuest Archiver (PQA)?
ProQuest Archiver is an e-commerce platform for publishers to distribute their content on the Web. Visit myPQA to learn more.

How do I order back issues of The Washington Post?
To obtain back issues for the last six months, you may call the Post's back issue office at 202-334-7239. Please note this is a recorded line. If you need further assistance you may leave a message and we will call you back.

The Back Copies Department holds a limited supply of issues for the last six months. There is a limit of 10 copies per order. The Back Copies Department can not search for specific articles. Please send the date of the issue you wish to purchase with your daytime telephone number and the payment in check or money order, no credit card purchase available.

Daily editions (Mon. - Sat.) and Sunday editions are $10.00 each. The price includes postage except with international orders (which require an additional $10.00 per copy for shipping). We do provide "next day service" with your company's FedEx, UPS, or Airborne "account number" when it is included with your letter.

Please mail orders to:

 The Washington Post
 Back Copies Department
 1150 15th Street, NW
 Washington, D.C. 20071

How do I get reprints of an article that appeared in The Washington Post?
Information for article reprints can be obtained by calling The Washington Post Writers Group at 202-334-5666.

How do I get reprints of a photo that appeared in The Washington Post?
Black and white or color reprints can purchased only of photos taken by Washington Post photographers and published in the print edition of the newspaper after 1996. The price for an 8"x10" black and white glossy is per print and for an 8"x10" color print. For purchasing instructions, please call 202-334-5666.

How do I get better search results?
Be specific with your search terms. If your search is unsuccessful, refine your search terms. To narrow your search, use the advanced search page to fill in date range, author, headline, or subject fields. The more information you provide, the more precise your search results will be. To get more results, select different search words or a longer date range.

Using AND narrows the search, using OR broadens the search, and using NOT excludes unwanted items. The NOT operator is useful in refining an initial query that returns a broad list of results. WITHIN and ADJ controls how close your search terms must be to one another. ADJ also checks that words found are in the same order as in your search expression. For more detail, visit Search Tips.

What part of the article is actually searched for my search term?
The basic search includes the full text of the entire article, as well as text from the headline, author field, date range, subject terms, etc. For more detail on getting good search results, visit Search Tips.

How do I browse articles that appeared on one specific day?
On the advanced search page, use the date range option to select the specific date, insert a "*" into the "Search for" field, and click the search button.

What if I can't find my article?
Please review the Search Tips for helpful information, as well as How do I get better search results?. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide research assistance for the archives.

How do I find an obituary?
To search for an obituary use the Advanced Search; next, in the search box list the person's name this way:
  first name pre/3 last name
    Example: john pre/3 doe.
(Using the proximity of pre/3 tells the system to find the first name 3 words before the last name; this takes into account the use of a middle initial or a nickname.)

For the historic article image archives, enter your search terms in the main search box, rather than the headline field.

What formats are available for viewing an article?
The Washington Post 1987 - Current Archive contains full text versions of articles and contains no photos.

The Washington Post 1877 - 1995 Historical Archive contains PDF images of articles as they appeared in the original newspaper.

How do I print a historic article image PDF so I can view it?
Please click here for instructions on printing article PDF's using Adobe.

How do I print an article from The Washington Post 1877 - 1995 Historical Archive?
View the article as usual within Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in (within the browser window). Be sure to check the image size in the lower left hand corner of the Acrobat screen. Select the print icon on the Acrobat tool bar. If necessary, use the "Graphics Select Tool" to select a part of the larger image.

To enlarge a small article select "Expand small pages to paper size" on the print dialog screen. If the document can fit on legal size paper (11" X 17") and the paper is available, click the "properties button". Within the properties dialog, select legal paper. You can use this properties dialog to select "landscape" instead of "portrait" prints as well.

To print a smaller section of a larger page use the "Graphics Select Tool" to select a portion of the article or advertisement for printing. To enlarge the page, select "Expand small pages to paper size" on the print dialog screen. To re-center the page on the paper, select "Auto-rotate and center pages".

To shrink an article for printing select "Shrink oversized pages to paper size" on the print dialog screen. The zoom percentage will be displayed below the print preview, on the bottom right of the window.

To print an article too large for one page (split the article into multiple pages) use the "Graphics Select Tool" on the tool bar to select a smaller section of the article. Select the print icon and use the expand options, or re-centering options if necessary. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary, selecting a different section of the larger image for printing each time. Often, if you use the "Zoom Out Tool" this will make selecting sections to print easier.

Note: If you enlarge or shrink the selection be sure to keep the zoom percentage the same throughout so the separate pages will line up properly.

What if I have a question that cannot be answered by the frequently asked questions?
If you still have questions after checking the frequently asked questions, please contact Customer Service.