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document

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Broader Term: 
Synonym: 

n. ~ 1. Any written or printed work; a writing. - 2. Information or data fixed in some media. - 3. Information or data fixed in some media, but which is not part of the official record; a nonrecord. - 4. A written or printed work of a legal or official nature that may be used as evidence or proof; a record1.

Notes: 

Document1 is traditionally considered to mean text fixed on paper. However, document2 includes all media and formats. Photographs, drawings, sound recordings, and videos, as well as word processing files, spreadsheets, web pages, and database reports, are now generally considered to be documents.

Like records, documents are traditionally understood to have content, context, and structure. However, the nature of those attributes may change in electronic documents. Electronic formats can present information in complex layers that are three-dimensional or have a nonlinear structure. The phrase 'four-corners document' is sometimes used to distinguish an electronic document that can be printed on paper without loss of information from more complex, three dimensional documents. Similarly, some electronic document content is not fixed, but may change over time; for example, a word processing document that pulls data from a constantly changing database. These documents are described as dynamic documents to distinguish them from traditional, fixed documents

In some contexts, document3 refers to an item that is not a record2, 3, such as drafts, duplicates of record copies, and materials not directly relating to business activities. In this sense, documents are not usually included on retention schedules and can be disposed of without authorization.

However, in other contexts, document4 is used synonymously with record2, 3. In this sense, 'record' connotes an official document, especially the final version of one created in the routine course of business with the specific purpose of keeping information for later use as evidence or proof of the thing to which it refers.

In some instances, there are clear distinctions between a document and a record. For example, in civil litigation in the United States all documents held by an organization are discoverable. However, those documents are admissible as evidence only if they fall within the definition of business record in the Federal Rules of Evidence (or state equivalent).

Document1 is often used interchangeably with 'publication', although this use has the sense of many identical copies in distribution. This use is common in state and federal depository libraries that collect government documents.

A document's content may reflect formula and conventions in its structure, including formal rules of representation, literary style, and specialized language that reflect the author's political, professional, or social cultures. A document's physical characteristics may also follow conventions relating to the medium, organization of internal elements, and presentation of the information.

Citations:
(Clanchy 1993, p. 294) Documents did not immediately inspire trust. As with other innovations in technology, there was a long and complex period of evolution, particularly in the twelfth century in England, before methods of production were developed which proved acceptable both to traditionalists and to experts in literacy. There was no straight and simple line of progress from memory to written record. People had to be persuaded – and it was difficult to do – that documentary proof was a sufficient improvement on existing methods to merit the extra expense and mastery of novel techniques which it demanded.
(Cook 1993, p. 30) In so-called 'smart' documents, such as those in relational databases and geographical information systems or in hypertext formats, data in various forms are combined electronically to produce a virtual 'document' on the monitor or at the printer. This 'document' can change from day to day as the attribute 'feeder' data on which it depends is continually altered.
(Cook 2001, p. 25) Documents, individually and collectively, are all a form of narration, postmodernists assert, that go well beyond being mere evidence of transactions and facts. Documents are shaped to reinforce narrative consistency and conceptual harmony for the author, thereby enhancing position, ego, and power, all the while conforming to acceptable organization norms, rhetorical discourse patterns, and societal expectations.
(D Levy 2001, p. 23) What are documents? They are, quite simply, talking things. They are bits of the material world – clay, stone, animal skin, plant fiber, sand – that we've imbued with the ability to speak.
(Duranti 1998, p. 41) Any written document in the diplomatic sense contains information transmitted or described by means of rules of representation, which are themselves evidence of the intent to convey information: formulas, bureaucratic or literary style, specialized language, interview technique, and so on. These rules, which we call form, reflect political, legal, administrative, and economic structures, culture, habit, myths, and constitute an integral part of the written document, because they formulate or condition the ideas or fact which we take to be the content of the documents. The form of a document is of course both physical and intellectual.
(Sedona Principles 2003, p. 30) The best approach to understanding what is a document is to examine what information is readily available to the computer user in the ordinary course of business. If the employee can view the information, it should be treated as the equivalent of a paper 'document.' Data that can be readily compiled into information, whether presented on the screen or printed on paper, is also a 'document' under Rule 34. [Note: Fed. R. Civ. P.] However, data used by a computer system but hidden and never revealed to the user in the ordinary course of business should not be presumptively treated as a 'document.' Nor should data that is not accessible except through forensic means, such as deleted or residual data.