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Documentation is a term with many meanings, the most common of which are:
- A set of documents provided on paper, or online, or on digital or analog media, such as audio tape or CDs.
- The process of documenting knowledge, as in scientific articles.
- The process of providing evidence.
- The writing of product documentation, such as software documentation.
- A synonym for the term document.
- A synonym for the term bibliography.
- A field of study and a profession founded by Paul Otlet (1868-1944) and Henri La Fontaine (1854-1945), which is also termed documentation science.
Professionals educated in this field are termed documentalists. This field changed its name to information science in 1968, but some uses of the term documentation still exists and there have been efforts to reintroduce the term documentation as a field of study.
Documentation may include
- written information for any read, projection or technical performing,
- data media of any format and for any reproduction,
- other content.
Common types of documentation include user guides, white papers, on-line help, quick-reference guides. It is less common to see hard-copy (paper) documentation. Documentation is distributed via websites, software products, and other on-line applications.
Principles for producing documentation
While associated ISO standards are not easily available publicly, a guide from other sources for this topic may serve the purpose , ,. David Berger has provided several principles of document writing, regarding the terms used, procedure numbering and even lengths of sentences, etc.
The following is a list of guides dealing with each specific field and type:
- documentation in health care 
- thesis writing , , 
- papers for academic journal publishing (i.e. Journal of Food Science  and Analytical Chemistry )
Procedures and techniques
The procedures of documentation vary from one sector, or one type, to another. In general, these may involve document drafting, formatting, submitting, reviewing, approving, distributing, repositing and tracking, etc., and are convened by associated SOPs in a regulatory industry , , ,.
Technical writers and corporate communicators are professionals whose field and work is documentation. Ideally, technical writers have a background in both the subject matter and also in writing and managing content (information architecture). Technical writers more commonly collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs), such as engineers, medical professionals, or other types of clients to define and then create content (documentation) that meets the user's needs. Corporate communications includes other types of written documentation that is required for most companies.
- Marketing Communications (MarCom): MarCom writers endeavor to convey the company's value proposition through a variety of print, electronic, and social media. This area of corporate writing is often engaged in responding to proposals.
- Technical Communication (TechCom): Technical writers document a company's project or service. Technical publication include user guides, installation manuals, and troubleshooting/repair/replace procedures.
- Legal Writing: This type of documentation is often prepared by attorneys or paralegals who could be in private practice or retained as corporate council.
- Compliance documentation: This type of documentation codifies Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), for any regulatory compliance needs, as for safety approval, taxation, financing, technical approval, etc.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2010)|
Documentation in computer science
The following are typical documentation types
- Request for Proposal (RFP)
- Requirements/ Statement of work/ Scope of Work (SOW)
- Software Design and Functional Specification
- System Design and Functional Specifications
- Change Management, Error and Enhancement Tracking
- User Test and Acceptance (UTA)
Documentation include such as feasibility report, technical documentation, operational documentation, log book and etc.
Tools for documenting software
There are many types of software and applications used to create documentation.
SOFTWARE DOCUMENTATION FOLDER (SDF)
A common type of software document written by software engineers in the simulation industry is the SDF. When developing software for a simulator, which can range from embedded avionics devices to 3D terrain databases by way of full motion control systems, the engineer keeps a notebook detailing the development "the build" of the project or module. The document can be a wiki page, MS word document or other environment. They should contain a requirements section, an interface section to detail the communication interface of the software. Often a notes section is used to detail the proof of concept, and then track errors and enhancements. Finally, a testing section to document how the software was tested. This documents conformance to the client's requirements. The result is a detailed description of how the software is designed, how to build and install the software on the target device, and any known defects and work-arounds. This build document enables future developers and maintainers to come up to speed on the software in a timely manner, and also provides a roadmap to modifying code or searching for bugs.
Documentation in criminal justice
"Documentation" is the preferred term for the process of populating criminal databases. Examples include the National Counterterrorism Center's Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment ("TIDE"), sex offender registries, and gang databases.
- N/A (2003). "Guide to Documentation". Retrieved 12 June 2009.[dead link]
- CGRP. "A Guide to Documentation Styles". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- N/A. "A guide to MLA documentation". Retrieved 12 June 2009.[dead link]
- Berger, David. "Procedures and Documentation". Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- Springhouse. Complete Guide to Documentation. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Tampere University of Technology. "Thesis Writing at the Tampere University of Technology". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Prince Edward Island. "A Guide for the Writing of Graduate Theses". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- University of Waikato. "Writing and Submitting a Dissertation or Thesis at the University of Waikato". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Journal of Food Science. "Manuscript Submission". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Analytical Chemistry. "Information for Authors". Retrieved 12 June 2009.
- Cropper, Mark; Tony Dibbens (2002). "GAIA-RVS Documentation Procedures". Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- N/A. "GLNPO's Quality System Documentation Review Procedures and Tracking". Retrieved 15 June 2009.[dead link]
- UK Data Archive (2009). "Data Services Process Guides: Documentation Processing Procedures". Retrieved 15 June 2009.
- UK Data Archive (2007). "Data Services Process Guides: Documentation Processing Techniques". Retrieved 15 June 2009.[dead link]
- Rader Brown, Rebecca (2009). "The Gang's All Here: Evaluating the Need for a National Gang Database". Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems 42: 293–333.
|Look up documentation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- IEEE Professional Communication Society
- Documentation Definition by The Linux Information Project (LINFO)
- Information & Documentation List of selected tools
- Library of articles on documentation: Technical writing and documentation articles