Post 613 –by Gautam Shah


A document is a self-sufficient, but unitized set of information. It is a meaningful entity because its contents have some logical order and interrelationship. The word Document originates from Latin word Documentum = lesson or teachings. A document is for preservation (recorded or storage) and for representation. Documents become reliable primarily through their date identification and secondarily by the content. Documents offer evidence of intentions and reports of activities.


CERN datacenter with World Wide Web www and mail servers 2010 > Wikipedia image by Hugovanmeijeren

Documents have many forms: Tablets (clay, stone, wood, etc.), inscriptions, scrolls, books, articles, reports, records, letters, movies, photograph albums, cassettes, disk drives and solid state devices. Documents are created for immediate communication or stored for future access.

Documents are formatted information. Here in-forming implies that a form is impressed onto -a medium. The formatted expression (words, symbols, representational graphics or doodles) on a medium, for the purpose of communication or storage is less likely to get lost with time. The forming mediums are physical, such as: paper, magnetic tape, etc. and formatting tools are: languages, images, graphics, metaphors, etc.


Storage of IBM Punched cards 1959 > Wikipedia image

The medium as estate or space for storage is costly or rare and the required effort is extraordinary, so the information for recording or communication is abridged through processing. With every process of expression, perception, recording and retrieving, etc. the content of a document may get corrupted. The Information originator accessing own records at some other time-space level cannot revert to the original physical and mental state, and re experience or reestablish the original. The communicated information manifests slightly differently, yet it is a reliable ‘knowledge transmission process’.

Traditional documents have linear or sequential arrangement of information. The access is generally sequential, or through preset strategies like: keywords, summaries, content lists, indices, etc. A card catalogue is pre sorted listing. Another method of facilitating access was to place sub sections of the documents in loose sheets held together by a thread (French=fil), wire, or metal-rod as a folder. Document identity was made on projecting tags, coloured edges or notched pages as employed in telephone or address books and account ledgers.


Film Archive storage Flickr image by DR-Byen DRs Kulturarvsprojekt

Very large databases such as police records, telephone directories, library records, however, are difficult to access quickly through cards. Mechanical punched card reader systems were used for reading the information and accordingly reposition (sort) the card. The language of punched and non punched locations not only made the information transmission faster and faultless, but repeatable. Later such systems allowed execution of commands through information on punched cards.


Card catalogue can contain such information but with online processes these are replaced by databases that are digitally searchable Wikipedia image by Tomwsulcer 

Documents are stored at a place and in a manner where these can be accessed. Reports or documents are stored with many other similar documents. All storage arrangements have some degree of classification system.

FIRST or the basic classification is the order of arrival. This by itself though provides little meaning, but for administrative handling it shows order of arrival, what is new (-and so latest), and what is old (possibly redundant). For this purpose documents are either, time-date stamped or given a sequential identifier (a chronological number -numeric, alphanumeric or alphabetical).

SECOND classifications for administrative relevance are the size and nature of the document (book size, number of pages, bytes or MBs of data).


Screenshot of the website of German National Library for search on “Konrad Adenauer > Wikipedia image by Raymond Disc Raimond Spekking

THIRD relates to the name of the document. Documents have primary title as provided by the author (or the publisher), which could have personal relevance, and so in addition can have a ‘technical titlemeant to explain the content or theme of the document. These additional titles can be longer. Digital documents such as computer files or internet file protocols have abridged (or expanded) titles which include search characters, numbers, words or keys.

Many documents often have identical titles, and so can be distinguished by various appendages such as author’s name, publisher’s name, date of publication or arrival in storage system. Computer file system and internet site address protocol use the extension codes for the same purpose.

FOURTH classification concerns to title-s provided by the author, librarian or storage handler. These are usually of two to three types or tiers. The main title broadly describes the contents and sometimes the purpose of the report. Usually it is of more than one word long, and often runs for two to three lines or sentences. Main title distinguishes the document from such reports dealing with similar or parallel subjects. Main title to the report is specific and should never be a general one.


Markham Stouffville Hospital Library > Wikipedia image by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

For example Study of lighting in Interiors is a non specific title, because lighting in interior could be natural, artificial, mixed, direct, reflected, borrowed, even, spot, day, night, evening, purpose related or general illumination. Interiors could be residential, public spaces, commercial, or industrial. Unless the report covers all these, a specific title could have been Study of day time artificial lighting needs in industrial interiors, or Study of lighting in terms of its effect on the perception of heights in interior spaces.

FIFTH classification range is the identity of the author (or editor, compiler). If the author is well known, certain level of content and quality can be presumed. And for this reason a brief note on the author, or reference-links to other works is included.

SIXTH classification present’s document’s relevance to other fields of knowledge. The contents of documents often refer to two or more distinct branches of knowledge. The authors fail to mention such inclusions in main or other tiers of the title. These classifications may include an abstract, a brief description, excerpt or summary. Such short descriptions are also used for primary dissemination of information, and function as a mini document.

SEVENTH classification range derives from the parts of the document. An index and table of contents, show the sequence, size, placement of sub-parts of the document. The sections, chapters and paragraph headings, other media presentations (photographs, illustrations, audio-video clips, links to other chapters, references to other documents, internet links to other resources), provide some idea about the contents.

Topics that are dealt at lower levels, i.e. at sentence or paragraph level may not be adequately covered. A Glossary of key words or terms provides an ideal reference for the sub topics. Internet search engines and research institutions draw out such keywords, and add them to their master data base of terms. The database not only provides reference as to the location of terms but also their context.

The format of a document has completely changed with modern day electronic multi tasking capability and multi media capable systems. Terms like Index, Glossary, list, appendixes were indicative of physical placement of various categories of information. Once these physical locations were difficult to access. Digital media allows interactive presentation formats in audio, video, virtual reality, etc. Hypertext has become a tool for interactive access system. Documents in other storage devices located at different geographical locations are accessible.





Post 561 by Gautam Shah


Traditional documents were once hand written compilations, and as a result the format of information presentation was so abridged and compact that made the interpretation of the text a complex issue. In traditional libraries every work of classical nature was accompanied by several ‘firsthand’ commentaries, interpretations and translations, and even larger number of corollary ‘studies’. The original work and its lineal volumes were connected by referencing the stanza or section identifiers. These methods remained workable within limits of a single author, subject, period of history or a locality, and in many instances the availability of all documents at a particular location.


Geet Govinda  Odisha, India early 18th C

Few of the accesses related problems to traditional documents were solved, when famous libraries began to hand copy documents for their own access. But, now it is found that every writer (or rather the manuscript copier) copied it by minutely editing a spelling, phrases and expressions. This created variegated versions of original works, making it extremely difficult to determine which one is reliable-authentic one. Printing of documents and wide distribution solved the problems of individualized copying of books, but authenticity of the work remained questionable.



Compiled documents of the past have been fixed assets entities. The pages of manuscripts or bounded books were tied by a thread (French=fil), wire, or metal-rod as a folder to avoid disturbing the order of placement. Manuscripts and books were organized or compiled, where its subsections had some cohesion on two counts: sequential placement and page numbers. So once compiled, it was not easy to add upon it. In future when more information was generated, if small in size, it can be placed as an addendum or appendix, or as a sequential volume.


A book on astronomy and mathematics of 10th C Flickr image by shafraz.nasser  (

A Document was perceived to be unitized set of information, Documents such as: Books, manuscripts, articles, letters, reports, drawings, specifications, procedures, instructions, records, purchase orders, invoices, process control charts, graphs, pictures, movies, photograph albums and audio-video cassettes etc. holistically represent a concept or ideology. These are stored as whole entity in their order of arrival, subject matter, author, and format (paper, books, tapes) etc. and the individual content is also identified similarly.


Buddhist manuscript on metal plates

Storage modalities demand some consistency of size, shape and density for the documents, whereas access considerations for the document and its content, require some form of cataloguing. Natural sub-divisions like chapters, sections or parts and preset strategies like, keywords, summaries, content lists, indices, etc. are designed for sequential and restricted random access. Cataloguing for access has changed more over two millenniums, in comparison to very little improvisations in the storage modalities.


An card division in Library of Congress Washington DC 1900

A catalogue is pre sorted listing. Such cataloguing was formed within the documents through projected tags, coloured edges, notched pages or insert floats. These methods were widely used for manually accessing sections of database documents such as account ledgers, address books, address registers etc. For very large databases such as police records, library records, census data, such manual access was unmanageable. Such documents first needed sorting to reduce the size of the search. For sorting and search operations, cards with projected tags, notched or marked corners or edges were used, first through manual and later mechanical processing.


Kardex index-card filing cabinet Wikipedia image by Pete Birkinshaw (

Mechanical punched card reader systems were the precursors of digital computing. Database documents gained a degree of transparency when formatted on marked or punched cards. These were used for sorting the information into known classes and search out anomalies of data. Many statistical tools were used for the purpose. Other written and printed documents in prosaic form, however, were too opaque for dissection and analysis. Such documents however, when considered as database with elemental units of letters, words and ‘constructions’, provide new insights into meaning, grammar and syntactical structures. This was the pioneering effort that was to become the word processing of digital technology.


Tabbed files Wikipedia image (cropped) by Pptudela at en.wikipedia

A document was perceived to be a lot of related knowledge which when referred to, provide the intended data. It was ‘a storable format of information’. Like other units of storage systems documents are modulated according to, what it is to contain, where and how it is placed, referred and retrieved. In modern information technology such modulated information lots or documents are called files.


Incoming books identifiers at Smithsonian Libraries Wikipedia image by Metta3001

‘Filed’ information carries several identifiers that help in storage, identification and access. The contents of filed information also carry internal and external attachments (links and references).

Identifiers for files

  • time (of origin)
  • size (of storage, transmission time & effort)
  • author, contributors
  • content (index, key words, summary)
  • place of origin
  • place of destination, identity recipient
  • authority to create, read, write, alter and delete the contents of a file
  • affiliations, linked documents, preceding and following documents
  • references
  • embedded codes
  • signs, symbols
  • language
  • style
  • mode of communication
  • limits and conditions of relevance



Post 474 by Gautam Shah


For creative writing it is important to communicate the concept and purpose of the expression. Stating it explicitly as an introduction, or recapitulating as the summary at the end, serve only a limited purpose. An introduction or the summary, are dulled by the elaborate body, with the passage of time and by other interesting details. Both remain muted if the print style, manners of speech or the media support do not reinforce it. In digital access systems the introduction or summary, are generated automatically, without the author being involved in its creation. The media presentation of this is without any typographical or graphical enrichments.

Jewish Torah scroll

The contents of writing are yet focussed in several ways. In this article the remaining SEVEN methods are discussed, THREE were presented in the earlier article.


4 – EMPHASIS BY CONDENSATION AND ELABORATION: The emphasis in presentations occurs by condensation and occasionally by elaboration of the subject matter. Primarily Condensation eliminates all unnecessary and less necessary contents, and thereby increase the clarity, reduce the expression size, delivery time, perception effort, etc. Condensation is also done by use of abbreviations and symbols that replace large units of contents. These include idioms, proverbs, metaphors, and signs. Condensation is often used to restrict the access to a specific class of audience, like magicians’ instructions.

Archived documents

Elaboration is achieved by augmenting the context of difficult to understand concepts, events, situations, or objects. It is also done by using the same word in different context, and using similar words (synonyms and antonyms from a thesaurus) to redefine the meaning. Multiple explanations help amplify content. Elaboration is also achieved by inclusion of anecdotes, couplets, quotations, footnotes, end notes, and other sensorial effects.

Emphasis is often created by intentional de-emphasis. Obvious details, concepts, ideas, conclusions are not put forward at the nominal time and space, but are placed at the end, or the audience is allowed to draw its own inferences.

The condensation and elaboration are employed to colour a document as a personal style statement.

Processed information often becomes so comprehensive that it becomes a very abstract expression. Abstracted expressions are exploited to achieve new insights.

Writing Declaration of Independence 1776.

5 – BRIDGING AND LINKING: The contents are bridged to create a seamless or a larger concept. The most common bridging is through time and space organization of the contents. The links to other documents (e.g. hyperlinks, bibliographies, index) are such reference bridges. Recorded contents are classified according to the nature of content, names of the author, date of publication, size and form of the document. Such classification identifiers also provide associations. A well bridged or cited content vouches its authenticity through circumstantial referencing.

Search engines list topics in terms of number of users referencing it. Wikipedia -the internet encyclopaedia relies on citations. Preface and such write-ups broach the subject by positioning it in a wider perspective.

Contents are also bridged using conjunctions. Words like and, if, or, when, then, whereas, therefore, etc. connect clauses or sentences. Bullets, numbered lists, also bridge sub topics.

archive store (History Centre) at Herbert

7 – SEPARATING AND ISOLATING: The contents are separated or isolated, by spacing and by tabulation (paragraphs, bullet marking, numbering, hyphenating, bracketing), to highlight or categorize the sub-topics. Separation in writing is achieved by commas, semicolons, brackets, or other interludes (gutter spaces in newspaper columns). In recordings a null space is provided for the machine to recognize the end of one section and the beginning of next one. By isolating the contents it becomes easier to link each such section distinctly.

Language encrypting machine

8 – ABSTRACTION: The contents are abstracted by removing all less important information, time slots and space gaps. The expression language in Internet chat rooms shows the nature of abstraction spreading across the world. Common words are written eliminating vowels and are denoted by their phonemes. Symbols and metaphors are also used to squeeze the contents. Vedic mantras represent knowledge in a very condensed form to easily remember it (‘Shrut Gyan’ -knowledge that is heard). However, such condensation is vulnerable to different interpretation of the contents.

9 – MARKING: Contents are marked to enhance (bold facing, underlining, Italics, large size type faces) their presence. The contents are delivered louder, faster or slower, brighter, repeatedly, and in metres (musical, couplets with rhymes) for the same effect.

Author Ernest Hemingway Writing at Campsite in Kenya

Author Ernest Hemingway Writing at Campsite in Kenya

10 – BY TITLING (NAMING): One of the best way of focussing (by declaration) the contents are to provide a title to it. A title as created by the author is more truthful but is not accepted by the reader or audience, as their intentions of accessing need not match the author’s perceptions. Storage systems create own titles to facilitate access by their users’ needs. Titles often have limitations of size. This is overcome by including long titles or list of keywords or summary or precis.

Presentations styles and techniques used for direct or inter personal communication like elocution, orations, sermons, lectures, cannot be used for, or are useless for reports, etc. Writhing as an assignment from superiors, teachers, retainers, employers have a defined motive, and structure. Method of presentation is essentially tailor-made to satisfy the assignee.


This article in continuation of earlier >>

Creative writing

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Creative Writing – 2

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Post 268 ⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


Presentations style and techniques used for direct or inter personal communications like elocution, orations, sermons, lectures, cannot be used for reports, etc. Writing an assignment for superiors, teachers, retainers, employers have a defined motive, and structure. Method of presentation is essentially tailor-made to satisfy the assignee. Reports, however, become public documents after a while, and could be accessed by anyone. Reports are extremely intentional, but the authors have no control how these may be interpreted.

Letter Writer

Reports inform others about events, experiences, observations, conclusions or a deductions, and are created with a lot of deliberation. A report document is a formal presentation, and is structured for communication -to a set of receivers (audience). Reports for regular participants can be a very abstract expression, as the creator and the receiver both have matured to a modality of understanding. All communicable presentations must be simple, clear, intentional (specific to a subject) and comprehensive, bereft of all unnecessary information. Reports for a public domain have to be rational, to save the media Space and access Time.

We deal with many different types of reports in our day to day life, like: Medical, Weather, Radio, TV, newspaper, School, Site, Departmental, Confidential, Legal, Business etc… Reports present results, prescriptions, directions, listings, proofs, deductions, explanations, confirmations, contradictions, facts, readings, observations, experiences, specifications, formulations, procedures, predictions, etc… Reports have many different forms, letters, memos, notes, essays, descriptions, theses, submissions, dissertations paper, minutes, memoranda, etc.

Technical Report for limited exposure

Report with jargoned language or complex slang, confuses the reader, and one with very lucid expressions may not be taken seriously. A complex language or technical writing saves the author from an onslaught of reactions, but denies the feedback. It creates a limited class of audience. Word processors like MS-Word consider writing accessible by 9-10 standard student to of very superior quality.

Specific Report

Most reports or writings are accessed and used from archives in some other time and space. Format of a report must be very relevant to the user or reader of the report. A specific report would provoke only a specific class of users, whereas a general report may stimulate different people differently. Some reports merely inform the user, and are not required to cause any acute stimulation. But a report that is required to provoke or instigate may also prescribe the course of action or mode of operation. Such reports may or may not indicate benefits and hazards of the prescribed actions.

Reports at simplest level present matter in Time-sequence of occurrence, manifestation, acquisition or realization or attention. This method alone fails with experienced readers, who jump from one part to another to anchor to things of relevance. It is often better to start linking the events to places and provide bridges to traverse on.

Verbal Reporting

It is very necessary to define the purpose of writing or the level of provocation one wishes to cause, at the start. Reports have some effect: ‘Reports stimulate a person very mildly, or provoke to take corollary action. Reports also affect values, beliefs, feelings, prestige, honours of individuals, cultures, societies, nations, races etc.

Broker reporting for tenants

Reports affect individuals and organizations by providing gains and losses. Reports also affect its author, composer or originator, when intended results or feedbacks are not of desired type, do not come in at all, are inadequate, or late. Authors are also affected by premature release or unauthorized use of the reports.

Authors of document or report must not only present an appropriate material, but also take steps, so that others can readily access it. For this purpose title of the report must be unique, and if necessary longer. A good title stands out among many other reports of similar nature. One of the best way to find a legitimate title, is to search other publications in an internet search engine.

Title search Menu

Frequently occurring matters generate regular reports which have an established structure. Special reports have varied data and are published at an unpredictable frequency. Reports have many styles or formats. Contents of reports vary according to the purpose. Some reports state the purpose, truth or an assumption first and follow it up with information to justify or reject it. Some study a context or situation to uncover the purpose or truth, behind it. Some take a middle course, on various presumptions and situations and build up a hypothesis, formula, or a theory.

Regular Reports -standard format

Reports are assets with a cost of rarity (unique, patent, invention, realization, miracles); cost of acquisition (investigation, surveys, experimentation, prototyping); cost of dissemination (printing, publication, presentations, copy rights, patents). These costs are recovered as salaries, royalties, commissions, fees, awards, grants, favours, charges, prestige, goodwill etc.

Provocative Reports

Reports that are provocative prescribe the course and consequences for the provocation. Authors who create reports for a fee have to guarantee for the veracity of information, and quantum of gain or loss. In case of a thesis or dissertation the author has to guarantee authenticity of facts and truthfulness of comments and observations.