Documents & Reports

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in the "Documents & Reports" site?

Documents & Reports, previously known as World Development Sources (WDS), contains more than 145,000 World Bank documents which are made available to the public to better share the institution's knowledge base and to implement the access to information policy. The types of documents you will find include: Board Documents (items concerning meetings of the Executive Directors); Country Focus (strategic priorities and directions for lending activities); Economic and Sector Work (in-depth background studies); Project Documents (loan/credit related documents released to the public according to the project cycle, including legal agreements); and Publications and Research (formal publications, working papers and informal series from departments around the Bank.

What is included in the Simple Search?

The Simple Search (accessible from Documents & Reports home page or the keyword field at the top of the advanced search page) includes the following attributes of the document: country, sector, subsector, document type, document date, author, title, report number, project id (format = P012345), ISBN, Board number, loan/credit number, and keywords from the abstract. This field automatically does an “And” search.  If you are using the keywords search on the Advanced Search page you can further narrow your search, by choosing to search on either "all words" (an 'and' function), "any words" (an 'or' function), "Boolean query" (allows you to type in 'and' or 'or' or ‘not’ in the search box), and exact phrase (will match the exact order of the words). Very often, using "exact phrase" will help you find a specific document and will give you much more accurate results than the other options.

What is the Advanced Search?

The Advanced Search page allows you to narrow your search based on specific criteria. For example, to see the latest Country Focus work on Romania and Estonia, you would select them from the country list (you can select more than one item by clicking on multiple boxes). Then select Country Focus as the document type. If you are only interested in reports for certain years, you can specify that in the date field. You may also enter information such as the author's name or the report's number. You can choose to sort the search results list according to criteria such as date or report type. Once you have made your selections, click on the Search button to see the results.

What is the difference between country and regions in the Advanced Search page?

The Region field on the Advanced Search page lists all the World Bank's administrative regions (as distinct from geographical areas). Use the Region search to select all countries within one region at the same time. The "Rest of the World" region includes countries and areas that do not fit into the other regions. The "World" region includes reports that are global in scope.

The Country field on the Advanced Search page lists contains both countries and areas. Areas can include geographical entities broader than a country, for example, the Aral Sea, or East Asia and Pacific. These areas indicate that the content of the document has a geographical scope larger than one country.

So, to find all agriculture documents related to all the countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region, choose Topic = Agriculture, Region = East Asia and Pacific. To see all agriculture documents whose geographical scope is East Asia and the Pacific, choose Topic = Agriculture, Country = East Asia and Pacific.

How can I read a document online? Which is better—text or PDF?

Once you find a title by searching or browsing, click on it to see the bibliographic record for the document and read an abstract. Most documents are available both in PDF format and as optical character recognition (OCR) text files; the text file contains no formatting. Tables and graphs cannot be reproduced. It is included as a "lightweight" means of examining the report. Printing and detailed reading should be performed using the PDF file. The PDFs in this site may be very large, since many are scans of the entire document. We provide an estimate of the file size for each document.

How can I print a PDF file?

To print a PDF file, your computer must have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Once the PDF file is launched, click on the Print function. Note that some reports are quite large, and some computers or printers may have difficulty processing them.

The document I want is too big to download or print. How can I obtain a paper copy?

You can order documents directly from the InfoShop in Washington, DC by phone (202-458-4500), fax (202-522-1500), or e-mail ( Please clearly indicate the titles of the requested documents. When possible, please use the report number, stock number, ISBN, and the country/title. More information about pricing and payment is available at the InfoShop ordering page.

I don't live in the United States. Is there a different way to order a copy from a local distributor in my country?

Yes, the World Bank distributes many of its publications via local distributors. Please see our Distributors and Booksellers.

How long does it take for documents to appear in the Documents site?

The site is updated every day. Documents such as working papers or research studies are available as soon as they are released by their department. Project documents are available upon approval by the Board of Directors. Some documents may require modification, editing, or processing into digital form before they can be posted.

Can I link to a document in your site?

Yes. Follow the instructions for developers.

Why do some of these "Public" reports have a caveat which indicates that they are "For Official Use Only"?

All of the reports in the Documents & Reports site are for public use. However, many of the reports are only released to the public after passing a certain milestone, such as Board approval for projects or perhaps a time delay in the case of Economic and Sector work. In such cases the papers are technically internal until the approval conditions are met. Because the document is then released in its original state, the cover may still contain the phrase for official use only. However, you will note that on the left margin of the cover is “Public Disclosure Authorized” indicating that all proper procedures under the Access to Information policy have been followed.

Why do the document types that I am used to seeing no longer appear?

We have consolidated some of the report types to facilitate searching and retrieval. Reports containing ISBNs, such as FIAS occasional papers, World Bank Discussion Papers, World Development Indicators, etc., have been moved under the document type "Publications." You can still find the reports by collection title; simply type the collection title in the Simple Search box on the main page or the "Keywords" box on the Advanced Search screen. For example, to find all of the World Bank Economic Reviews, type "World Bank Economic Review" in the keyword box and choose "Exact Phrase" from the pull down menu at the right.

Chairman's Concluding Remarks and Chairman's Summing Up have been merged into one document type called "Summing Up." This reflects the change in titles for these documents in 2010. All of them, regardless of title or date, can now be found in the Imagebank / Documents & Reports collection by searching the "Summing Up" document type.

Why are some legal agreements missing the UN registration number? Why do others have LICUN in the UN registration number field?

Although loan and financing agreements are continuing to be registered with the United Nations, the UN registration number may not appear immediately in the record. The abbreviation "LICUN" serves as a place-holder.

Why does the report profile say "No Content Available"?

There are three reasons why a report profile page has no PDF files attached.

A) If this is a new document, it can take an hour for the content to appear online.

B) If this is an older document, the content may be on paper or microfiche. In this case, the report is available on an 'as requested' basis. Please send feedback to and we will attempt to scan the content and make it available to you.

C) If this is part of "Metadata only" collection, there will be no content.  You may request access to these documents in accordance with the World Bank Policy on Access to Information (AI Policy). Upon request,  the document will be reviewed in accordance with the AI Policy to determine whether it contains any information covered by the AI Policy exception(s). Once approved, it will be declassified with content.