Question: What's the difference between a document and a file?
People often use words "document" and "file" interchangeably when using computer software. Either might refer to refer to a letter, syllabus, report, chart, page of text, gradebook, seating chart, or other information you create or assemble.
This is the usual disctinction:
- A document usually refers to something you can print or that is already on paper. Example: your spring semester schedule.
- A file usually refers to the way a document is stored on a computer or website, i.e., in a disk file. Example: file SpringSemesterSchedule.doc.
- File might also refer to items not usually called documents, such as photos or drawings (e.g., myphoto.jpg), "zip" files (e.g., myfiles.zip), or even software (e.g., file myprogram.exe).
Here is the distinction we use in Staff Site documentation:
- We use document to refer to a file you'd put in a locker and make available for downloading.
- We use image to refer to photos, clipart, drawings, pictures, and other images you'd display on a web page.