Rising to the level of a record? Some thoughts on records and documents

Geoffrey Yeo (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Publication date: 29 March 2011



This paper seeks to suggest ways of understanding the relationships between records and documents.


The paper reviews some of the statements made about records and documents in professional literature. It also offers some thoughts on the connections between records and documents in digital and pre‐digital environments and their intersections with other concepts such as “data”.


Although professionals have often seen records and documents as closely intertwined, this paper argues that the record and the document follow different logics. Documents are characterised by their format, records by their relation to activities, events or other temporal occurrents. Records need not be in documentary form, and can exist at multiple levels of aggregation. The notion that documents become records when they are “declared” is problematic. Capture and declaration do not determine record status, but if capture systems are robust they allow the power of the record to be harnessed to the fullest possible extent.


The paper seeks to explicate some basic concepts of the professional discipline.



Yeo, G. (2011), "Rising to the level of a record? Some thoughts on records and documents", Records Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 8-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/09565691111125071

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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