Document vs. Documentation – Difference Explained

For many, the words ‘document’ and ‘documentation’ can cause a great deal of confusion. This is because they can be used interchangeably, but only in specific circumstances. On this page, we want to explain how these two words work.

What Is The Difference Between ‘Document’ And ‘Documentation’?

The word ‘document’ refers to a single piece of official written or printed material. This may include passports, a financial report, etc. ‘Documentation’ means the same thing. However, ‘documentation’ can be used as a singular or plural. ‘Document’ can also appear as a verb, while ‘documentation’ cannot.

Document vs. Documentation

In the word ‘document’ is being used as a noun then, in most cases, the word ‘documentation’ can be substituted in. However, this will not work the other way around. While ‘documentation’ can be used to refer to the singular and plural, ‘document’ can only ever be used to refer to the singular.

Beyond this, the major difference between the two is that ‘document’ can be used as a verb, while ‘documentation’ cannot. When ‘document’ is being used as a verb, it indicates that information is being recorded.

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What Does ‘Document’ Mean?

‘Document’ can mean multiple things, depending on the context. When it is used as a noun, it is used to refer to a singular piece of paper or another piece of evidence. When it is used as a verb, it is stating that pieces of information are being recorded.

According to The Cambridge Dictionary, when used as a noun the definition of ‘document’ is “a paper or set of papers with written or printed information, especially of an official type”.

When used as a verb, the definition from the same dictionary is “to record the details of an event or process”.

You should be able to work out when ‘document’ is being used as a noun and when it is being used as a verb by looking at the context the word is used in. If you see a name for the document included e.g. passport, evidence, etc. then you are looking at a noun. if you see ‘document’ being used as an action, then it means you are looking at a verb.

Here are some examples so you can see how ‘document’ can be used in a sentence, whether it is a noun or a verb:

  1. A passport is a document.
  2. If you are applying for a loan, your last salary specification is an important document.
  3. It is important for a police officer to document all evidence.
  4. A scientist must document the results of their studies.
  5. A newspaper from the 1500s is a historical document.

What Does ‘Documentation’ Mean?

‘Documentation’ is a noun. It is an uncountable noun. This means that when the term ‘documentation’ is used, it can refer to one or multiple documents. Documentation is often used as a way to provide evidence of something e.g. identity, finances, etc.

According to The Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of ‘documentation is “official papers or written material that provides proof of something”.

Generally speaking, ‘documentation’ can be used to refer to any document, singular or plural. It is an uncountable noun. However, nowadays, you will often find ‘documentation’ used to refer to multiple documents. Any documentation can come under the header ‘documentation’. This includes identifying documents, manuals, and more.

Here are a few examples of how you can use ‘documentation’ in a sentence:

  1. You have to provide supporting documentation when applying for citizenship.
  2. The loan officer asked for my identity and salary documentation.
  3. The machine’s warranty is one piece of documentation in the box.
  4. Identifying documentation can include a passport, driver’s license, and a bank statement.
  5. It is important that there is proper documentation of all code.

Is ‘Document’ Short For ‘Documentation’?

‘Document’ is not short for ‘documentation’. While they can be used interchangeably in some contexts, this is not always the case. As the word ‘documentation’ is used as a plural for ‘document’, if you shortened it down, the meaning of the word would completely change.

Whenever you see the word ‘document’ appear, you can be sure that it is either going to be used as a verb or as a singular noun. Because ‘documentation’ is rarely used to refer to the singular, and never to a verb, the term cannot be shortened down to ‘document’. If it is shortened, then the sentence would take on a whole new meaning.

Is ‘Document’ Or ‘Documentation’ Used The Most?

The word ‘document’ is used far more frequently than ‘documentation’. This may be down to the fact that ‘document’ can be used as a verb or a noun, while ‘documentation’ can only be used as a noun.

According to Google Ngram Viewer, the word ‘document’ is used almost double the amount that ‘documentation’ is used. Interestingly, the latter word only started to get used frequently in the 1950s, while ‘document’ has been used frequently since the 1500s.

Document vs. Documentation english usage

Synonyms For ‘Document’

While ‘document’ is a perfectly fine word to use, sometimes you may want to spice up your language and for this, you need synonyms.

Synonyms for ‘document’ can vary based on whether you are using it as a verb or as a noun. We have synonyms for both.

If you are using ‘document’ as a noun, then you may use these synonyms, depending on the situation and the type of document:

  • Paper
  • File
  • Report
  • Record

If you are using ‘document’ as a verb, then these are your synonyms:

  • Archive
  • Record
  • Catalog
  • Write down

Synonyms For ‘Documentation’

For ‘documentation’, many of the same synonyms for the verb ‘document’ can be used, but you must pluralize them e.g. paper becomes papers. Here are some other synonyms that you may use:

  • Validation
  • Attestation
  • Certifications
  • Documents
  • Credentials
  • Authentication

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