document

A document is a written, drawn, presented, or recorded representation of thoughts. Originating from the Latin Documentum, meaning lesson – the verb doceō means to teach and is pronounced similarly.

In the past, it was usually used as a term for written proof used as evidence. However, in the computer age, a document is generally used to describe a primarily textual file, along with its structure and design, such as fonts, colors, and additional images.

The modern term ‘document’ can no longer be defined by its transmission medium (such as paper) following the existence of electronic documents. ‘Documentation’ has more meaning than a written or drawn presentation of thoughts.

The formal term ‘document’ is defined in Library and information science and documentation science as a basic theoretical construct. Everything may be preserved or represented to serve as evidence for some purpose.

The classical example provided by Suzanne Briet is an antelope: “An antelope running wild on the plains of Africa should not be considered a document, she rules. But if it were to be captured, taken to a zoo, and made an object of study, it would be made into a document. It has become physical evidence being used by those who study it. Indeed, scholarly articles written about the antelope are secondary documents since it is the primary document.” (Quoted from Buckland, 1998 ). (This view has been seen as an early expression of what is now known as actor–network theory).