Introduction to the special issue: Genres of digital documents

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information, Technology & People, Volume 18, Issue 2, Number 2, p.76–88 (2005)


Purpose – To introduce the special issue on “Genres of digital documents.” While there are many definitions of genre, most include consideration of the intended communicative purpose, form and sometimes expected content of a document. Most also include the notion of social acceptance, that a document is of a particular genre to the extent that it is recognized as such within a given discourse community.

Design/methodology/approach – The article reviews the notion of document genre and its applicability to studies of digital documents and introduces the four articles in the special issue.

Findings – Genre can be studied based on intrinsic genre attributes or on the extrinsic function that genre fulfills in human activities. Studies on intrinsic attributes include classifications of genres as clusters of attributes, though these classifications can be problematic because documents can be used in flexible ways. Also, new information technologies have enabled the appearance of novel genres. Studies on extrinsic function include ways to use genre for education or information accesses, as well as the use of genre as a lens for understanding communications in organizations. The four articles in the special issue illustrate these approaches.

Originality/value – The paper provides a framework that organizes the range of research about genres of digital documents that should be helpful to those reading this research or planning their own studies.


It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.