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Public Information Online (PIO): How to use the PIO database service: Home

How to access the Public Information Online database service and use it to find official publications including those from the Scottish and UK Parliaments.

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Log into Public Information Online

Searching and browsing

On the home page, you can perform a simple search for a parliamentary paper by title or paper number.

For more search options select ‘Advanced Search’ beneath the search box.

In the left-hand column of the advanced search screen you can specify Parliament, Session and Category (e.g. type of paper). The default option selects all parliaments, sessions and categories.

Enter your search terms in the relevant box:

  • ‘Title, ISBN, Paper Number’ searches for the terms occurring in these fields.
  • ‘All Fields’ searches for the terms occurring anywhere in the document.

If appropriate, select the corporate author from the drop-down menu.

If you know the paper number (e.g. HC 128) you can enter this in the ‘Title, ISBN, Paper Number’ box.

You can limit the date range by selecting the appropriate dates from the ‘Date From’ and ‘Date To’ boxes.

Select how you wish the results to be displayed from the ‘Sort Order’ drop-down menu (i.e. ‘Alphabetical’, ‘Categorical’, ‘Chronological’).

Select the ‘Search’ button.

Records indicate the date, paper series and number, and title of the document.

The search results page also offers the option to:

  • Amend your search (in the left of the screen);
  • Create an Email Alert; and
  • Create a Saved Search

Follow the relevant links to benefit from these features.

Select the title to view the full-text of a document in PDF.

On the next page select ‘DOWNLOAD PDF’ .

The document opens in a new window. You can then print or save the document as you would any other file.

Public Information Online offers a range of connectors and other syntax symbols which can be used in searches. These include:

  • AND – looks for records that contain all terms, e.g. banks AND regulation
  • OR – finds records that contain either term, use this to list alternatives, e.g. lawyer OR solicitor
  • NOT  – excludes a term from the search, e.g. environment NOT “climate change”
  • “ ” – use quotation marks round terms to look for them as a phrase e.g. “progressive taxation”
  • ~n – finds terms occurring within a given number of words of each other e.g. “internet security”~10 will find these terms occurring within 10 words of each other.
  • ? (single-character wildcard symbol) - use the question mark to look for terms that match with a single character replaced, e.g. organi?ation  finds organisation and organization.
  • * (multiple-character wildcard symbol) – use the asterisk to truncate a term, e.g. advert* finds advert, adverts, advertisement etc.; or to look for terms that match with a multiple characters replaced, e.g. bl*d finds blood, bleed, and bled.

On the home page, in the black menu bar you can follow links to ‘UK Parliament’, ‘Scottish Parliament’, ‘Scottish Government’, etc.

You can then follow links to specific categories of publication.*

After following the link to category of publication, you can select the session from the drop-down menu and then select the ‘FILTER’ button.

You can then browse documents by selecting a range of paper numbers (e.g. 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, etc.).

A list of relevant documents is displayed in the main frame.

To view the full-text of the document in PDF form, select the title link.

On the next page select ‘DOWNLOAD PDF’.

The full-text document opens in a new window. You can then print or save the document as you would any other file.


*For example, under ‘UK Parliament’ links include ‘House of Commons Papers’, ‘House of Commons Bills’, ‘House of Lords Papers’, ‘House of Lords Bills and Amendments’, ‘Command Papers’, ‘HOC Daily Hansards’ and ‘HOL Daily Hansards’; under ‘Scottish Parliament’ links include ‘Papers’, ‘Bills’, ‘Explanatory Notes to Bills’, ‘Policy Memorandums to Bills’, ‘Official Reports’, ‘Written Answers’, ‘Official Reports of Committee Debates’; and under ‘Scottish Government’ are links to ‘SG Papers’ and documents grouped by topic.

Bill Tracker

Use this to follow the progress of a Bill through the UK or Scottish Parliaments:

  • On the home page, select ‘Bill Tracker’, in the left of the screen.
  • Select the relevant Parliament and session from the drop-down menu.
  • Bills are listed alphabetically. Follow the link the Bill/Act you wish to track.
  • The record provides a list of documents associated with the passage of the Bill in reverse chronological order (with other sort and search options available).
  • To view the full-text of the document in PDF form, select the title link. On the next page select ‘DOWNLOAD PDF’.

Further help

You can get help with using Public Information Online by selecting ‘Help’ in the grey menu bar at the top of the screen.

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