I'm building a software component which will allow users to view both automatically-generated log entries and human-created notes in the same list. Both are time-stamped and will be displayed in the same list in chronological order.

I'm hoping to find a word or short phrase which will describe both of these things. I'm currently using "message", but that doesn't sit well with me; it implies a more active form of communication. I considered "records" and "entries", but they both feel overly generic.

I would like to be able to say something along the lines of

This is the _____ component. It combines the data in the notes and log components.

  • @V0ight I'm not very happy with "records". The reason for this is more due to the specific terminology of technology; record is the word used in programming for "a piece of data stored in a database". To me, a "records" component sounds nearly as generic as a "data" component. Jul 14, 2016 at 13:53
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    Dis you consider history? Jul 14, 2016 at 14:23
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    I am afraid the best I can think of for a single element of the history is record. I know you don't like it, though! Jul 14, 2016 at 14:27
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    I'll plump for @V0ight's suggestion. Archive might feel static, because on the web being archived can mean something like inactivating. However, most archives grow continuously, as any archivist with a space crunch can attest. Alternatively, depending on how you will present the information, perhaps something like timeline?
    – 1006a
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:43
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    Personally, I would consider the human-created notes, since they're time-stamped and recorded just as the machine-generated logs are, to be a subset of "log". They are just logging a different kind of event. Jul 14, 2016 at 15:54

9 Answers 9


You may consider journal:

A journal is a location of stored activities or events occurring on a computer or network.

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    As a term of art in the IT field, "journal" has a very specific meaning. Journaling systems are able to use a journal to track individual changes to the system state, and can replay all or part(s) of the journal to reproduce those changes after restoring the overall system state from a backup (or if the journal is designed to allow it, back out selected changes). Classic use case is to find the transaction that blew up a DB and replay everything right up to the previous transaction. If the log can't do these things, it's not a "journal". Jul 14, 2016 at 18:12
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    The hyperlink provided in the answer has 2 definitions; the first is what I used and the second is about the Journaling File System. Jul 14, 2016 at 18:19
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    The use of journal in this sense predates computing. Before there were journaling file systems, journals were used in accounting to keep detailed records of all transactions, with the express purpose of being able to use them to reproduce work, back out changes, and so forth.
    – barbecue
    Jul 14, 2016 at 21:53
  • @alwayslearning The prevalence of journaling filesystems, databases, etc. has rendered any historical meaning of "journal" in IT obsolete. No one would use the term if it's solely to provide human-readable descriptions and lacks the ability to replay and/or back out transactions. Jul 14, 2016 at 22:32
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    Also, any assumption that an IT-specific technical term has rendered a common English word obsolete is pretty silly. Most computer users are NOT IT professionals.
    – barbecue
    Jul 15, 2016 at 0:56

A log entry would be an event. But this is not a term that can be used for notes very well. However perhaps the nicely ambiguous term annotation can serve?

A note by way of explanation or comment added to a text or diagram:
marginal annotations


  • This is also probably the most scientific/technical friendly word, besides possibly journaling (which is used by HFS+ file systems on Macs)
    – reas0n
    Jul 14, 2016 at 19:16
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    The verb form works as part of a phrase, but ambiguously standing alone, the noun form does not encompass the log aspect. "marginal annotations" is also ambiguous. Are they in the margin, of little worth, or perhaps both?
    – Mazura
    Jul 15, 2016 at 0:37



During our last project "history" is what we named a similar collection of chronological system generated logs and user generated comments.

We referred to the individual instances as a "history item" or "history record"

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    Depending on what the log and note entries record, you could be even more specific, e.g. "Transaction History" or "User History".
    – talrnu
    Jul 14, 2016 at 20:13

Diary (TFD):

  • A daily record of events or measurable phenomena, usually kept to track patterns over time: kept a diary of blood sugar levels.
  • A book or computer file used for keeping such a record.

The term has been used to record "sessions" in softwares like Matlab (write to a diary file) or Octave (Help to Log, Save and Edit).

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    I strongly associate the word "diary" with belonging to a specific person. Jul 14, 2016 at 15:04
  • @Will Kunkel I am afraid computers or systems will be considered as "persons" soon Jul 14, 2016 at 15:06

In the context of Information Technology, specifically the nomenclature we use for our Salesforce Database, we use the term Documentation

The usually printed instructions, comments, and information for using a particular piece or system of computer software or hardware

Source: Merriam Webster

We use "documentation" as a catch-all term for the automated logs generated by the various moving parts of the system as well as the manual system changes and notes added by our administrators. When we need to refer to a single part of the documentation, we call it an entry.

Hopefully this is helpful.

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    As an IT person, I would say logs are not "documentation", which consists of relatively static material prepared to explain how the system (should) work[s]. Logs, in contrast, are records of events that reflect how the system responded to various stimuli. Confusingly, one may use "document" as a noun to refer to a change order/log, or a verb to refer to the production thereof. Such documents may become incorporated into the "documentation" of the system, but some may not, or are extensively reduced in size via summarization in the process.. Jul 14, 2016 at 18:13
  • While I partially agree with this, I was suggesting documentation in the context of a project's documentation process, where in my organization includes any and all logs resulting from the testing of a new system and feature. This does not necessarily include what I would normally think of as documentation either, but I think it fits the bill quite nicely.
    – jaichele
    Jul 14, 2016 at 18:20
  • Curated portions of test logs might fit in permanent usage-guiding documentation if they contain information relevant to a given portion of the document, but it seems like the asker is referring to logging in production and a system for merging logs from different sources into some other kind of log. Sure, parts of the final merged log might be used in documentation, but the log itself would not be considered IT documentation.
    – talrnu
    Jul 14, 2016 at 20:26
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    @jaichele In that case, the process is described as "documentation", but not the logs themselves. Jul 14, 2016 at 22:29

While I think "history" and "journal" are both close to what I want, the suggestion of "history" brought to mind activity:

Use (of internet, playstation, bank account etc.).

Of course, the problem of what to call the individual pieces of data remains: activity items? activity records?

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    We built a similar system and I would also go with activity. I would call those individual entities activity records. If not, history is the next most appropriate suggestion IMO.
    – BadHorsie
    Jul 15, 2016 at 11:24
  • "activity log" maybe?
    – AndyT
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:37

How about "events?" You could then classify them as "software-created events" and "user-created events."

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    This answer was automatically flagged as low-quality because of its length and content. A suggestion is not an answer. A good answer is comprehensive and contains evidence showing why it is correct. Links to external resources are encouraged. Answers which consist of virtually nothing but an unsupported statement or a citation are not useful and may be subject to deletion – even correct answers. For an introduction to the site, take the Tour. For help writing a good answer, see How to Answer.
    – MetaEd
    Jul 14, 2016 at 17:48
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    I disagree. A suggestion is an answer when the original poster is asking for one. The original poster said, "I'm hoping to find a word or short phrase which..." "Hoping to find A word", not "hoping to find THE word."
    – Ken S.
    Jul 14, 2016 at 20:25

annotated log

"This is the annotated component. It combines the data in the notes and log components."

annotate an·no·tate /ˈanəˌtāt/ verb

add notes to (a text or diagram) giving explanation or comment. –Google

  • I didn't see the other answer (annotation) before I suggested annotated. But I will leave mine because the verb form is a lot less clumsy for this instance. I.e., "a log with annotations" vs. "annotated log"
    – Mazura
    Jul 15, 2016 at 0:23

You are already using two words, notes and log, according to definitions that are highly specialized to your particular context. You expect users of your system to read the documentation that uses these words and not be confused or misled by other closely-related (but different) meanings of those words.

That's reasonable; people do this sort of thing all the time when describing software systems.

Now you want a word that means "notes or log entries" in this specialized sense, without other possible meanings that might cause confusion or misunderstanding.

But why must it be one word? We often use multiple-word phrases to describe things when one word is not specific enough.

Since you are describing something that combines the notes component with the log component, why not use the words notes and log combined in a phrase? For example,

This is the notes and log component. It combines the data in the notes component and the data in the log component.

This has the advantage that you have already trained users to use your specialized definitions of the words notes and log when reading your documentation, so they will naturally apply those same restricted senses of those words in order to understand what is in this new component.

There are other ways you can combine the words notes and log, such as notes-log, in case you wish to avoid the word and.

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