A meta-document (10) includes an object conveying document information (12), processing information (14) pertaining to processing of the meta-document and metadata (16) for indexing and retrieving the processing information. The processing information (14) is recorded on the meta-document (10) each time the meta-document (10) is processed in some manner. Each time processing information is recorded on the document, appropriate metadata for indexing and retrieving the processing information is also stored on the meta-document. Processing may include any transformation of the document information or the meta-document itself. Creation and recording of the processing information (14) and associated metadata (16) on the meta-document may be accomplished externally by the particular source or environment to which the meta-document may be residing.; Alternatively, each meta-document may include a tool (18) (e.g., a software program or macro) embedded on the object. Whenever the meta-document is accessed or processed, the embedded tool creates the appropriate processing information and associated metadata. Whenever the meta-document is sent/distributed by any means, its document processing information part is parsed and used to populate the local environment.