How to use the Electronic Edition

  1. Browsing
  2. Searching
  3. Footnotes
  4. Tagging
  5. Printing
  6. Downloading for offline reading
  7. Further help


Browsing is an effective way of using the common place books because each volume is divided into chapters based around a particular theme or topic. To browse Mill's common place books, select the 'Contents' link from the menu bar at the top of the page. Next, choose a title head of interest from one of the books. You can also view any editorial information about the volume by clicking on the respective 'Editorial Note'.

Whilst browsing chapters within each volume, you can navigate to the previous and next chapters using the links at the top-right and bottom-right of every page. You can also use these links to return to the contents page.

Numbers in blue type, e.g. 81r, represent the folio page of the transcription, and can be used for specific citations. 'r' and 'v' stand for recto and verso respectively. Additional letters or numbers after 'r' and 'v' identify the individual paper scraps mounted on a particular page. There will usually be an editorial note to explain the exact arrangement of the page.


You can search the common place books at any time by entering your search term in the box at the top of the page and pressing 'Search'. The search facility will return all chapters where your search term featured at least once.

Once you have located a chapter that has your particular search term in it, we recommend using your browser's Find command (typically available by pressing the CTRL or Command key and the F key together) to locate the term within the chapter exactly.


One of the major features of the electronic edition is the inclusion of editorial notes and clarifications of references. These are included in the form of clickable footnotes, which can be shown or hidden depending on the user's preference.

To expand all footnotes in a given chapter, simply press the button. By default, the footnotes are hidden upon loading the page. To hide all footnotes having previously expanded them, click the button.

To show an individual footnote following a line of manuscript, click on the blue number, e.g. [203]. This will expand the footnote and display it with a blue background. Click the blue number a second time to hide the reference.

Tagging (beta)

We have introduced a facility for users of the common place books to submit tags, that is, one or two word descriptions of the major themes or content of each chapter. Tags are displayed at the top of the chapter. You can submit your own tags by filling in the textbox, separating your tags with a comma (,) or semicolon (;), and pressing the button.

Whilst this facility is currently experimental, we hope to eventually gather tags from our users for each chapter of every volume of the common place books. This will have a distinct impact on scholarly use of the books, as users will be able to compare different chapters which are identified by their tags as being distinctly related.

As tags are currently held for moderation, they will not immediately appear in the chapter. Moderation typically takes 48 hours but is usually much quicker.


You are welcome to print any chapter of the common place books for private use, and a specific stylesheet is provided for this purpose. All references are automatically expanded for printing purposes.

Downloading for offline reading

We intend to offer the common place books as downloadable PDFs shortly, and ask that users interested in this feature keep an eye on our homepage for future announcements.

Further help

This short guide is intended to assist first-time users of the electronic edition. If you require further information or assistance on a particular issue, please do not hesitate to get in contact.