Web document explained

Web document is a similar concept to web page, except it is a broader term with the following distinctions:

Web page Web document
Transfer protocol HTTP or HTTPS protocols. HTTP(S) or any other Internet communication protocol.
Document format (X)HTML (X)HTML or any other type of valid MIME Content-Type, like an ISO OpenDocument.
Context Page. Page, e-mail attachment, or many other kinds of client applications.
Viewer Browser. Browser or a MIME-compatible application.


A PDF document requested from SFTP or SMTP protocols, for example, is a web document, but not a web page.


The web document distinction emphasizes the fact that not all content generated by a web template system, web service, and other related systems represents output as a web page.


The e-mail protocols predate the Web protocols, but are not a subset, they constitute distinct Internet services. E-mail documents may be HTML documents, and may be viewed into a e-mail client or through a webmail (or Internet forum) as a web page. A lot of web applications deal with web page bodies and e-mail bodies indistinctly. Web applications deal with web pages, but also with many other formats and protocols.

Current trends toward XML

From a long-term perspective, the increasing prevalence of XML may eliminate the need for this kind of distinction.

For example:
  • Web standards have evolved and become more adaptive toward XML (HTML, for example, can also be expressed as XHTML);
  • XML-based OpenDocument specifications (for desktop applications like Open Office) provide an open mechanism for specifying formerly "binary-only" filetypes in plain text (or as binary files of archived text).
Under such trends, the concept of web document becomes more uniform as more file types become expressible as different dialects of XML.

Appearance of terms

The term "Web Document" appears in Google searches, "Internet document", appears less frequently.

Dynamic web document

Another extended (derived) concept is dynamic web document, like documents generated from template engines or web services. Dynamic web page is a specific case of dynamic web document.

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