In my language, we have a word – beslutsunderlag – for documents and other material that are used as a basis for decisions (generally decisions made by an authority of some sort). For instance: when a company is about to hire a new member of staff, they would use applicants' CVs, interviews etc as "beslutsunderlag" for deciding whom to hire. When a company is considering terminating one of their local branches, they use financial reports, customer surveys etc as "beslutsunderlag" for their decision. And so on.

When I look up beslutsunderlag in bilingual dictionaries (tyda.se and bab.la) I get decision basis, which is the exact literal translation of beslutsunderlag (beslut – decision; underlag – basis), but quite frankly, sentences such as the following sound rather unidiomatic to me, and when I google different versions of them, I get pretty much no hits:

From the decision basis, it is clear that...

The decision basis should include information about...

The committee will put together a new decision basis

In my quest for a proper translation, I've come across decision guidance documents (or DGDs), which seems to be used to some extent, but I'm not 100% sure it means the same thing as what I'm after.

So, my questions are:

  1. Am I right that the above examples don't quite work?

  2. Does decision guidance documents mean 'documents and other material collected by a decision-making body, upon which a formal decision will be based'?

  3. If neither decision basis nor decision guidance documents works, what should I use instead?

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    Consider that the translation may not be the same in all contexts - for example, my inclination would be to replace decision basis with evidence in your first example, but the other two examples would need more contextual information. Nov 10, 2021 at 16:52
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    That looks to me like just any old collection of documents guiding and/or supporting a corporate decision. It's not like those financial reports and customer surveys were created in order to help management decide which and whether to close local branches, so they wouldn't normally have a specific "collective name" for when they are used in that way. Nov 10, 2021 at 17:23
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    Decision Guidance Documents wouldn't be idiomatic - but it would be OK to use, at least in formal contexts. However, this is a situation where English doesn't in practice have a single "go-to" expression for all the usages of the German word; different words or phrases will be used in different contexts. Nov 10, 2021 at 17:24
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    ...but I am intrigued as to what one might call corporate reports and documents that aren't used in decision-making contexts. (Apart from the obvious - waste paper! :) Nov 10, 2021 at 17:26
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    (I understood that you were referring to the lack of a single word/phrase in English as what was annoying; no need to apologize for that). Yes, it's definitely better - and always more appropriate - to find the right word/phrase for the context. (I'm also not sure why I read Google Translate as detecting German instead of Swedish. Fairly obvious that that was my error, not Google's.) Nov 10, 2021 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


Yes, you're right that a direct translation of "decision guidance documents" is not the best choice. It is certainly to-the-point, but since it's not an established or familiar phrase, its meaning isn't immediately obvious.

Unfortunately this is one of the many times that the best translation must do some rewording, rather than be very word-for-word. To the best of my knowledge there is no direct English corollary for "documents used as the basis for a decision" that fits all contexts generically. There are specialized terms for various contexts, though. For many of the instances you cite, "evidence" or "body of evidence" might be appropriate. "Supporting documents" can be appropriate when referring to less-important documents that accompany a more-important one ("please submit your resume and any supporting documents"). If the emphasis is on a collection of documents that have been brought together into a whole, "file" or "portfolio" are common. Here are some choices for specific scenarios:

  • Interviewing a candidate for a job, to refer to the resume/cv/supporting documents: "Looking over your qualifications, I see..."
  • Deciding to close a branch of a company: "In making this decision, please consider the file collected over the past year..." (This is another where "body of evidence" might make sense)
  • Thank you so much! This is really helpful! Nov 10, 2021 at 17:41

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