Difference Wiki

Document vs. Record: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 13, 2023
A document is any written, drawn, or printed information; a record is evidence of an event, activity, or transaction.

Key Differences

A document can encompass various forms of written, drawn, or printed information. It serves as a means to communicate, represent, or store data. On the other hand, a record specifically captures evidence of an event, activity, or transaction for future reference or evidence.
Documents might be drafted for a multitude of reasons, including to instruct, inform, or entertain. Records, conversely, always have a purpose to validate or demonstrate that a particular event or transaction has occurred. They serve as a proof or an archive.
In professional settings, many documents transform into records once they are finalized and need preservation. For instance, a draft of a contract is a document, but once it's signed and executed, it becomes a record of that agreement.
A vital characteristic of documents is their potential to be edited, revised, or redrafted. Records, by nature, are static. Once established, records should remain unaltered to maintain their integrity and authenticity.
While both documents and records play critical roles in organizational and personal contexts, they differ in purpose and permanence. A document generally remains fluid until finalized, whereas a record serves as a fixed reference of a past event or action.

Comparison Chart


Form of written, drawn, printed information
Evidence of an event, activity, or transaction


To communicate, represent, or store data
To validate or archive an event or action


Potentially editable or revisable
Static and unchangeable


Can become a record when finalized
Originates from a documented event or action


Fluid until finalized
Fixed reference of a past event or action

Document and Record Definitions


A paper or digital file that provides information.
He attached the document to the email.


Evidence of an event, activity, or transaction.
She set a new world record in swimming.


Written, drawn, or printed information.
She kept the important document in a safe.


A permanent account stored for reference.
The library has records of all borrowed books.


A representation of data in various formats.
The team collaborated on the document online.


An archive of specific information.
The vinyl record played his favorite song.


Evidence in written or printed form.
The detective collected the document as evidence.


Documentation authenticating an occurrence.
The company kept meticulous financial records.


A formalized written item.
The organization issued a new policy document.


An item kept for future evidence or reference.
Old court records were stored in the basement.


A written or printed paper that bears the original, official, or legal form of something and can be used to furnish decisive evidence or information.


To set down for preservation in writing or other permanent form
She recorded her thoughts in a diary.


Something, such as a recording or a photograph, that can be used to furnish evidence or information.


To register or indicate
The clerk recorded the votes.


Can a document be digital?

Yes, a document can exist in both paper and digital formats.

How does a record differ from a document?

A record is evidence of an event or transaction, while a document contains information in various forms.

Can a document become a record?

Yes, once a document is finalized and requires preservation, it can become a record.

Do records always exist in written form?

No, records can exist in various formats, including audio, video, and digital databases.

Are documents always official?

No, documents can range from official contracts to informal notes.

What is a document?

A document is any written, drawn, or printed information used for various purposes.

What's the purpose of a document?

A document's purpose varies but often aims to communicate, represent, or store data.

Can photographs be considered documents?

Yes, photographs can be considered documents, especially when they provide information or evidence.

What's an example of a public record?

Marriage licenses, birth certificates, and property deeds are examples of public records.

How are documents classified?

Documents can be classified based on their purpose, content, origin, or format.

Why is the integrity of a record important?

The integrity of a record ensures its authenticity, reliability, and usability as evidence or reference.

How long should records be kept?

The duration for keeping records varies based on the type of record and regulatory requirements.

Are records editable?

Records are typically static and should remain unaltered to maintain their integrity.

How are medical records stored?

Medical records can be stored in paper format, digital databases, or electronic health record systems.

How are documents and records managed in organizations?

Organizations use document and records management systems to classify, store, secure, and retrieve documents and records efficiently.

Can a document be edited?

Yes, documents can often be edited, revised, or redrafted.

Is an email a document or a record?

An email can be both; it's a document by nature, but if it evidences an important event or decision, it can be preserved as a record.

Are all records permanent?

Records are meant to serve as permanent evidence of an event, but they can sometimes be purged or deleted based on regulations.

Why are records kept?

Records are kept for reference, evidence, or validation of events or transactions.

What's an example of a personal document?

A personal letter or a diary is an example of a personal document.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons