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Document Cloud Project Tutorial

document cloud project tutorial

©Advocacy for Fairness in Sports, 2019

Getting Started

DocumentCloud is an open-source software as a service platform, operated through Thompson Reuters, that allows users to upload, analyze, annotate, collaborate on and publish primary source documents. Advocacy for Fairness in Sports has joined other journalists and media sources in sharing documents we acquire in the course of our reporting in the interest of transparency and greater public access.

Document Cloud is a free service and does not require an account to use.

Searching – General

1.    For a general search of all documents, simply type into your browser.


2.     Locate the search box around the middle of the screen on the right.

general search

3.    Type your search term and hit “enter.” I used “NFL concussion.”

general search

4.    This is the page returned.

general search return

Among the millions of documents in Document Cloud’s repository, 2,159 documents were returned in the search.  The column on the left shows the news organization that has contributed the documents.  Advocacy for Fairness is Sports has contributed 1,638 of them.  (Note: The news are listed with a few promoted organizations at the top of the list, and after that, the listing is alphabetical.)

Searching – Advocacy for Fairness in Sports

1.    To access documents belonging to Advocacy for Fairness in Sports, go to our website and click on Document Cloud Project.

advocacy for fairness in sports

You can find Document Cloud Project on the navigation menu. Currently, we have two pages for access—one for NFL cases and one for other cases, but this is likely to expand as we continue to add documents and projects.

As you can see, our documents are organized by project, which is usually (but not always) a case name.


Our website directory gives the case/project name and the status of the case.


Scrolling down, you’ll note a non-lawsuit project at the top of the list for NFL Disability Plan documents.  Afterward, you’ll note that the NFL Concussion Litigation/Settlement is split into several sections due to the tremendous number of document files associated.  The first five are grouped according to the year filed.  Other sections include Ancillary Matters, Miscellaneous Documents, Off-Docket Filings obtained by Advocacy for Fairness in Sports, and documents specific to Opt-Out cases.

You’ll also notice in some cases, as illustrated for Richard Dent v NFL, that if filings have appeared in two or more courts, they are organized accordingly.

example 3

Just click on the case you want to browse in order to access the associated documents.  I selected Lane Johnson’s case in the Southern District of New York.

document return


1.    You’ll need to sort the documents to make them useful and easy to navigate.  Document Cloud offers several sort criteria, but the one most useful to you for our purposes is to sort by title.


You’ll now see that the documents are arranged by docket number, beginning with earliest filed, and progressing chronologically.

by title sort

2.    The default view in Document Cloud is a grid, but you can change the view to list very easily by clicking the icon near the top right of the screen.


Your screen will now look something like this. As you can see, some documents have no additional information added but others do.

list view

If you take a moment to glance at the bottom of the page, you’ll note the number of documents in the file (in this case, 77) and the number of pages in the project (in this case 7.)


You’ll also notice that the number of pages in a document is displayed in list view.

Opening and Using Documents

1.    To open a document, click on the title, and you’ll see the document framed in blue.


2.    Click “open.”


Your document will be displayed like this:

page view

The details on the right side of the screen will vary by document.



The first thing you will see are arrows for navigating from one page to the next.

We’ve also referenced a Law Review article by Sam C. Erlich that sheds light on the legal issues of Johnson’s lawsuit.

You’ll also see a link for the Original Document PDF.  If you click this, the document will open in a new page for reading, and/or downloading.

The PDF view is the standard web interface as pictured below.


pdf view

Let’s take a look at another document to better illustrate some of the information we try to provide in the document details pane from the previous view.

Here I’ve opened Lane Johnson’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Summary Judgment.

page view with inset

I’ve enlarged the details pane for a better view.  For this document, you’ll see a Related Article link.  This is a link to an Advocacy for Fairness in Sports article that directly relates to the document, or the document may be linked from the article.  As before, We’ve provided some additional reading for more background.

Tab Views

When you open a document in Document Cloud, you’ll see three tabs (shown below) in the upper left corner of the screen.  The default view is the Document View as displayed above.


The pages view of the summary judgment document is shown below.


Clicking on any page will open it in Document View.

The third tab, Text, is very useful.  Clicking on it produces the searchable view below.

text view

Notice the search box.  You can type any word here and search for instances of that word in the document.  Here, I searched for the word, “arbitrator.”


As you can see, the first page with the word, “arbitrator” is displayed with the word highlighted. The title bar above the document notes that “arbitrator” was found on 12 pages.  You can use the previous and next arrows to navigate to each instance.

We hope you’ll find this project to be useful.  It is our goal to add as many sports law cases as possible in order for you to have the convenience of finding them, along with their significant documents and other resources to accompany them.  If you have documents you’d like to contribute to the project, just contact us and let us know.  (There’s a spot to credit contributors.)  If you’re searching for documents not shown, you can also contact us with your request, and we’ll be happy to get it up in short order if we have it.  Or just drop us a line and let us know how you like the feature or if you have ideas for ways that we can improve it.

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