National Archives of the Netherlands (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science)

An authentic paper document

A paper document, for example a book, is physically one entity. It is comprised of a number of attributes, namely context, content, structure and appearance. Together, these attributes help us determine whether a document is authentic.

On a physical document, these attributes are inter-dependent and if one of them is changed, it impacts on at least one other. For example, the structure of a document, such as its division into chapters, is also represented in the document’s appearance. The suppression of some content, such as the name of the author or the date of publication, can impact on the known context.

Furthermore, on a physical document, these attributes are all ‘fixed’and cannot easily be changed after the document has beeen published. Authentic paper documents are thus comprised of all of these attributes, generally in fixed form.