Hard copy and soft copy

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The words "hard copy" and "soft copy" are about pages of words and pictures either recorded onto printed paper or in soft-copy form as shown and spoken in telephone or computer machine forms. Sometimes, a recording on a compact disc (CD) can be considered a hard copy of music, pictures or people talking.

In the U.S.[change | change source]

In information handling, the U.S. Federal Standard 1037C (Glossary of Telecommunication Terms) defines a "hard copy" as a permanent reproduction, or copy, in the form of a physical object, of any media suitable for direct use by a person (in particular paper), of displayed or transmitted data. Examples of hard copy include teleprinter pages, continuous printed tapes, computer printouts, and radio photo prints. On the other hand, physical objects such as magnetic tapes, diskettes, or non-printed punched paper tapes are not defined as hard copy by 1037C.[1]

A file which can be viewed on a screen without printing it out is known as a "soft copy".[2][3] The U.S. Federal Standard 1037C defines "soft copy" as "a nonpermanent display image, for example, a cathode ray tube display."[4]

Older meanings[change | change source]

The term "hard copy" predates the age of the digital computer. When making printed books and newspapers, hard copy refers to a manuscript or typewritten pages that have been edited and proofread, and is ready for typesetting, or being read on-air in a radio or television broadcast. This traditional meaning has been all but forgotten in the time of the information revolution.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. Hard copy as defined in Federal Standard 1037C.
  2. "Soft Copy". Collins English Dictionary.
  3. "Soft Copy". Dictionary.com.
  4. "Soft copy", as defined in Federal Standard 1037C.
  5. hard copy as defined by Merriam-Webster Online.