If I understand it correctly, one usually uses the term enclosure when referring to extra documents to e.g. a letter. But what if these extra items are not other documents and papers?

Say I have written a report discussing some of my developed software. It could be a school paper, and the paper and the files in union make up the final product handed in.

What is the right term for the software files belonging to this report? The dictionary definition of the words above don't quite seem to fit.

  • As a software developer, I have never heard the term, "enclosure" used in any manner relating to software or bundling of software with documentation. I'd just refer to it as the actual software or the documentation. Jun 19, 2012 at 22:50
  • So, whouldn't there be just one term to describe such a bunch of files? An equivalent to enclosure or attachment?
    – Steeven
    Jun 19, 2012 at 22:52
  • 1
    There may be a term for it, but I have never seen one used nor had need to use one. Jun 19, 2012 at 22:53
  • Okay. I would like a fitting word for it on the front page of a paper where the files are handed in electronically in a zip-file along with it. Just to emphasise that there are "attachments" belonging to the paper.
    – Steeven
    Jun 19, 2012 at 22:57
  • It's probably better to just keep it simple then. If you're handing in the actual code, refer to it as something like "see attached source" or "see attached source code". If it's an actual executable/binary or something like that, "see attached program/software". Keeping it simple will most likely be easiest for your readers. Jun 19, 2012 at 23:01

5 Answers 5


The major difference between attachments and enclosures in traditional media is really as slight as a staple or other mechanism of close placement physically binding the two documents together, and the terms tell the reader of the main document where to find the mentioned additional article. Enclosed tells me to look in the envelope, where attachment tells me to expect it to be bound to the main document.

What you describe is probably best termed enclosure if you are handing in a package containing a disk or jump drive, or attachment if it is printed source code stapled to the document.


I'm not familiar with any term that fits into your description, and I'd imagine that neither will the recipient. I'd recommend keeping things simple and refer to the attached files exactly as they are. If you have attached source code that you want to reference, simply state "see attached source code" or "see attached source". If you are handing over an actual program or binary, simply reference it as "see attached program/software".

  • It might also work to talk about e.g. "the source code supplied with/alongside this report". Jun 20, 2012 at 2:19

"Attached" things are separable from whatever object they are attached to. "Enclosed" things are embedded inside the object as part of a package. You can "attach" both a Microsoft Word document and a ZIP archive file to an email message. Either might contain other "enclosed" objects (a ZIP archive certainly would), but you would not know until it was opened.


'The attached' ("Please see the attached.") Supporting materials/items/media.


An attachment is a separate document that is sent in an electronic folder along with your email message. An attachment notation is used when something is stapled, clipped or 'attached' to the original letter.

In contrast, an enclosure is included within the email message. An enclosure notation is used when something is included with the original document.

  • -1 does not answer the question (what to call items handed in with a report, other than documents and papers). Furthermore enclosure does not mean a document embedded in the body of an email. Enclosure means a document enclosed in the same envelope or package as the cover letter. The word applies equally well to documents which are embedded as "attachments".
    – MetaEd
    Sep 2, 2012 at 7:36

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