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Documentation is an umbrella term that may seem simple and therefore surprising that it would even need a definition. But it can be useful, precisely because it is so broad.

Because it can mean so many things, the term documentation is used for anything that can be documented, of course. It can be financial data provided for various purposes, or clinical data documented for medical research purposes, and so on.

But for anyone where a significant part of their work is documentation, it usually has a different meaning, and here are some definitions for such documentation:

  • To technical writers it usually means “technical documentation“, i.e product manuals, user guides, online help, etc.
  • To users working with documentation at an insurance company it might mean policies (insurance policies and all the policies governing that business)
  • To people at a bank or heavily regulated industry it might mean standard operating procedures or compliance documentation.
  • To someone working in the life sciences it may refer to “labeling” (an umbrella term for all kinds of documentation, including not only what the layman would call labels, but also large publications called IFUs (Instructions for Use) and more.