15 Types of Documents

By Mark Nichol

Many terms exist that distinguish one form of documentation from another. Here are some words for specific documents, with explanations of their functions as well as additional definitions of the terms.

1. Bond: an agreement made binding by a payment of money if the agreement is not honored; also, an adhesive, restraining, or uniting element, force, or object, or, as a verb, to create such an effect
2. Certificate: a document attesting that something is true or someone is qualified, or proving debt or ownership, or, as a verb, to certify
3. Charter: a written contract or instrument, or grant or guarantee, that defines conditions, privileges, or rights, or a lease of all or part of a vessel, or, as a verb, to confer such an agreement, or to offer for hire
4. Compact: an agreement (related but not identical to compact, meaning “dense”)
5. Constitution: a written instrument detailing a political or social entity’s rules and the rights of its citizens or members, the laws or principles of such an entity, or any custom or law; also, the composition or establishment of something
6. Contract: a document detailing an agreement, often enforceable by law, between people or parties, or the agreement itself, or, as a verb, to enter into an agreement; also, in criminal jargon, an arrangement to assassinate someone
7. Covenant: a document recording a formal binding agreement, or the agreement itself, or an action to remedy breach of such an agreement, or, as a verb, to make such an agreement
8. Diploma: usually refers to a record of a degree earned from an educational institution, although it also applies rarely in general to a document conferring an honor or privilege or to an official document
9. Guarantee: a written or stated agreement about possessing or using something or about the longevity or quality of a product, or the agent of such as agreement, or, as a verb, to provide such an agreement
10. Guaranty: synonymous with guarantee, but also an agreement to be responsible for payment of a debt or performance of a duty, or a pledge (see below), or, as a verb, to provide such an agreement
11. License: a document or other item that is evidence of the granting of a license, or the authority to engage in an activity, or assignment of some or all rights by a patent or copyright holder to another, or, as a verb to grant such a document; also, straying from artistic forms or standards and, generally, freedom or permission to act, or, specifically, irresponsibly or with disregard for standards (in the latter senses, also referred to as licentiousness)
12. Passport: a document authorizing the bearer to pass into and out of sovereign nations, or, as a verb to send or take items through a country; also, generally, authorization or permission to travel, or, figuratively, something that enables achievement of a goal
13. Pledge: a binding promise to do or not do something, or a contract for performance of an act or security of a debt, or the security itself, or, as a verb, to agree to such a promise or contract
14. Surety: synonymous with guarantee or pledge, or certainty, confidence, or the foundation of confidence or security
15. Warrant: a document assigning authority to do or act, or, as a verb, to assure, declare, or guarantee

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