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Document and Record: Synonymous but Different

by rigobertostokes

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The latest sales report is a document; the sales report from 1994 is a record. Your child’s report card for the current school year is a document; your child’s report card from several years ago is a record. The words “document” and “record” may be synonymous, but managing documents is not exactly the same as managing records.

In recent years, the management systems for both documents and records are slowly but surely growing closer than ever. A lot of the related services are either offering both systems or at least integrating document management capabilities with their record management services (or vice versa). Still, it’s important to know that while all records are documents, not all documents are records. Here are a few reasons why.

The content

Your child’s average grade in a subject is still subject to change until the end of the school year. This is considered a document since data can still be changed depending on the situation: poor or great performance, access to data zones, and so on. In a record, the data entries cannot be changed anymore since they have already occurred.

Experts say records control is stricter than document control since records can be solid pieces of evidence. For example, the decision to make the Stasi Files public spurred an entirely new view of activities from the eastern side of Berlin prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, the East German secret police, tried to dispose of the said records but failed.

Sharing vs. storage

Document control focuses more on the ability of users to share documents usually within a firm or group, as well as allowing common access. On the other hand, records control deals with the preservation and storage of the records usually for future use. Unlike documents, record access is usually limited to a handful of people and some records are only kept for a limited time. Gaining access to these records usually means following specific protocols.

For more information about documents, records, and their differences, you can visit the website at You can also check out the ISO surrounding corrective action and other terms by visiting

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