A data viewer for displaying information selected from hierarchically organized data enables hierarchical searching by displaying hierarchical levels, or alternatively, by implementing an index search of selected data elements. If the index search is selected, an alphabetically ordered list of selected subjects, categories, and subcategories in the database is displayed for the hierarchically organized data. The selected subjects, categories, and subcategories are each associated with a database record and not with a lower hierarchical level that is a category or subcategory. Upon selecting an element from the index, the user is presented with a topical list. Any topic can be selected to display additional information. When an element is selected during an index search, the hierarchical relationship of the selected element to the hierarchical levels above it is also displayed, enabling the user to select a different hierarchical level that appears more relevant to the information desired.