Personal papers, memos or letters are examples of the type of documents that can be produced. The list is varied and long. From documents that shape societies (such as treaties, manifestos and plays) to documents that offer empirical data (such as reports and some newspaper and magazine articles) documents vary by content and objective. If you want to catalog a series of documents, there are a few things you need to know.


Documents vary by type, function and size. Personal essays, legal documents, organizational or business documents, research or historical documents are examples of documents used by individuals, organizations, governments and corporations to collate and present research, data, statistics and other information, including course objectives, policies and procedures and business plans.


A document is any paper form that is used to communicate facts, observations or information. A document can be "classified," meaning it will provide confidential information to a restricted and authorized few; "public," meaning it will provide non-sensitive materials for public consumptions, or in the case of a professional or business structure, to all employees and staff members; and "research," meaning it will provide an account of a historical event. Documents can assume any number of classification, depending on the content, including "contract," such as a deed or lease; "scientific," such as a theory or hypothesis; or "artifact," such as a legal claim or notion used for litigation.


Empirical documents, wherein information is obtained through observation, can include documents of record like newspapers and magazines, oral histories and historical documents, such as religious texts and personal essays. Factual and verifiable documents include text books, novels, recipe books and encyclopedias. Web documents include web page, weblog and wiki.


A good document will effectively communicate a key set of objectives or provide information that answers a question. For example, a How To document or instruction manual will answer a question or set of questions regarding how a task is performed or a goal is executed. To do this, the document must contain instruction that can be rendered or is serviceable. An example would be an instruction manual that allows a user to assemble a bike, for example, without needing additional resources beyond the instruction manual and the tools provided. In order words, to be effective, the instruction manual must document the process, outline the task and provide all relative information to answer the question posed by the document. In the case of the bike example, the instruction manual would have to answer the question, "How to assemble Bike A Using Only Tools A and B."


Some documents hold a copyright to the contents communicated therein. Many corporations, writers, scientists, lawyers and business owners request copyright protection to ensure ownership over sensitive content including business summary reports, product description and patent claims, employee evaluations, mission statements as well as treatments and story ideas, motions filed in court, research and analysis claims and internal company review evaluations.