I'm developing software that asks user to specify a niche / field / area / domain of the document he is uploading. It can be business proposal, technical documentation, official stuff, correspondence, complain whatever. How do I call this field ? There will be a suggestion form field that will contain the most frequent expressions.

  • You might want to try the User Interface SE as well. – Joe D Jan 10 '11 at 17:53
  • It is a pure english question, I just need the proper "english" expression – lisak Jan 10 '11 at 17:55

It could be difficult to pick the perfect label for this field. But based on your description, and as a programmer, I agree with John Satta, Category is probably the safest bet. But some other words which might work:

  • Tag
  • Description
  • Subject
  • Topic
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  • +1 for Tag, it's looser than category and more "Web 2.0" :-) and thanks for the shout out! – John Satta Jan 11 '11 at 22:30

The word most familiar to your users for this function is "category", as in "specify the category for this document". This word, coupled with examples will clearly convey your message.

Another useful word might be "type", but users uploading files might interpret that to mean "which software package created the document" and thus provide answers such as MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. That is not what you are looking for, as stated in your question.

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  • The expression Category already occurred to me, but it seems to me that it is used for types of subject that is/are exactly specified ... like categories[blue, red, orange, yellow], but if they are uploading document that can be of hundreds of possible "types" like "living environment" or PR article, the word category is kind of inappropriate. – lisak Jan 10 '11 at 18:08
  • @lisak: well, what is the name of the field in the database where this "category" will be saved? Use that. And if you don't have a name for that, either, then just ask yourself what the purpose of that field is. If it's supposed to be a "short description", then use that. If it's supposed to be a "topic" or a "subject", use that. If the field ultimately serves no purpose, just drop it. – RegDwigнt Jan 10 '11 at 18:29
  • @RegDwight to much IT :-) I'm asking on the English StackExchange because I need the english expression. The purpose of this field is augmenting the system with semantics and categorization. What I need is a native english speaking person that could tell me what is the most appropriate expression. I think I accept the "category" – lisak Jan 10 '11 at 19:29

You may be mixing different things together. What you are trying to describe may be an aggregate of:

  • The document structure, as given by what headings and subheadings it is supposed to contain. This could be called document type. Some examples are Invoice, Memo, Activity Report.
  • The area of discourse of the document content, i.e. what the document talks about. This could be called document theme. Some examples are Business, Computing, Linguistics.
  • The audience for which the document is intended (which is linked to the tasks that are expected to be performed with the document); this could be called document usage. Some examples are User Training, Product Testing, Claim Processing.

There could be more aspects. My point is that each aspect describes a different variable, and they have different names. Mixing them together results in confusing semantics and, as one would expect, a confusing name. :-)

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    the first is called genre and the second subject and the third audience, if single word terms would help. – Dan D. Feb 11 '11 at 18:06
  • what connects them is that they are facets of document classification. genre, subject, and audience are complex facets as they require thought to determine (this means that it's harder or impossible to classify by them if the vocabulary or taxonomy of terms is unknown) while author, title, date are simple (they are free) because they come unchanged from the items (there is no need for terms). the values of complex facets are terms defined by taxonomies. (btw i'm an incidental librarian, amidst dozens of other thing, and trying to write.) – Dan D. Feb 11 '11 at 20:54
  • and there are a lot more facets than just these music tracks, and specialized document genres have extended facets like how a patents have additional fields that are helpful because they make the relations between this document and the rest of the world by reference of the names of entities explicit if you understand how to read them the fixed form makes scanning for a field quick and if they are indexed by those fields you can request a list of items with a field with specified values like i want all documents authored by John McCarthy or all the documents that cite a paper authored by him – Dan D. Feb 11 '11 at 21:01
  • documents refer to the world by names, that occur in relations; sentences are complexes of relations. the document can be inverted to turn these relations from contents in English into indexable form, just by recognizing the citing structures that exist in literature. this doesn't need hard tools just facet tagged strings like in Entity Workspace would allow for fast access to names that occur in documents although this can be automated the disambiguation can't be automated due to the requirement for human judgement which can't be automated away – Dan D. Feb 11 '11 at 21:14

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