The Function of Documents

TitleThe Function of Documents
Publication TypeReports
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsDoermann D, Rivlin E, Rosenfeld A
Date Published1996/10//
InstitutionUniversity of Maryland, College Park

The purpose of a document is to facilitate the transfer of information from its author to its readers. It is the author's job to design the document so that the information it contains can be interpreted accurately and efficiently. To do this, the author can make use of a set of stylistic tools. In this paper we introduce the concept of document functionality, which attempts to describe the roles of documents and their components in the process of transferring information. A functional description of a document provides insight into the type of the document, into its intended uses, and into strategies for automatic document interpretation and retrieval. To demonstrate these ideas, we define a taxonomy of functional document components and show how functional descriptions can be used to reverse-engineer the intentions of the author, to navigate in document space, and to provide important contextual information to aid in interpretation.