An Overview Of How Structured Authoring Enhances The Technical Writing Process

Less time, more content.

This is an adage every organization currently swears by when it comes to technical writing. There’s an ever-increasing need for technical content, with only a handful of people available to create it. The truth is that most technical content actually wastes time in the content creation process and don’t have a content reuse strategy.

Content reuse is a system that most organizations have only begun to warm up to or have used for a while now. It saves an ample amount of time in the content creation process. Why recreate something which already exists? Rather, reuse as much as you can and save your “real work” for the new and different things. Now, there are two basic ways to reuse content, and one of them is using the structured authoring environment.

Let’s delve deeper to understand how a structured authoring process can help technical report writing help .

What is structured content authoring?

Structured authoring employs technology to maintain a particular content structure. It helps the technical writer abiding by the structure by specifying the type of content permissible at a place in the document. Even if the technical writer strays from the defined structure, the structured authoring system will warn him/her of the change. For instance, it may highlight something like “You cannot use a table here!” With structured authoring, the technical writer no longer needs to remember the prescribed structure and the associated dos and don’ts.

From the reviewer’s perspective, the structured authoring systems free them from having to keep track of the validity of a document’s structure. That’s more time that the reviewer can devote to the content.

As an example, consider a simple structured document—a recipe. A general recipe requires multiple components: name, a list of ingredients, and instructions. The style guide for specific cookbooks indicates that the list of ingredients should always be given before the instructions.

In an unstructured authoring environment, the editor of the cookbook must review the recipes to make sure that the author has followed the style guideline. In a structured environment, the recipe structure enforces the proper organization.

Formatting structured documents

To format the structured documents, you must associate formatting with specific element sequences or elements. The formatting is essentially automated; once the writers assign elements to content, the formatting is integrated automatically to create the final output files.

Elements of structured authoring that help with the technical writing

Templates

In case of structured authoring, technical writers follow a predefined information model that highlights the structure of the content and offers a limited set of elements that can be utilized in a text. Depending on this information model, the writers create templates to streamline the authoring process. There are multiple templates, like style-based templates for structured authoring in Word and templates with elements for XML editors.

Information types

Technical writers distinguish multiple types of information that they want to present to the reader. Now, the questions to ponder over is, what does a given concept indicate (conceptual information)? How can the user carry out a given task (task information)? Which (technical) data or instructions are required to work on a given task (reference information)?

Once the writers identify and group these information types, they filter the texts, so readers don’t have to do that anymore while reading.

Information units

The basic information unit is known as a “topic”: a short piece of text limited to one particular subject. Each of these topics is a part of one specific information type (task, concept, reference). Topics can be combined to develop larger information units like chapters and parts, but they can also be categorized into smaller pieces like sections, steps.

The best practices of structured authoring for technical writers

The technical Essay help writers apply the best practices mentioned below in structured authoring.

  • Appropriate headings

Use concise, meaningful titles that convey the essence of the message. Readers need to be able to understand the information through the titles or headings and quickly get the relevant information.

  • Chunking

Break the lengthy blocks of content into multiple information units to make the details more accessible. Utilize the information types, tables, subtitles and titles, and lists.

  • Coherence

Only mention information that’s useful for the readers and keep the other related details as well, both on a micro-level, like on a page, and on a macro level, like an entire manual or a knowledge base.

  • Minimalism

Present just enough details to be able to carry out a task or absorb a given concept. Stay away from repetitions and redundant information. One of the perks of minimalism is that your text will consist of fewer words, resulting in considerable savings in translation costs.

  • Consistency

Utilize only one term for one concept (terminological consistency) and maintain consistency in your punctuation, structure and layout. This is where information models and XML schemas or templates prove their value.

  • Hierarchical organization

Arrange the information building blocks (chapters, sections, topics) logically, consistently to maintain a tree structure that’s accessible from different angles.

  • Animations and illustrations

Illustrate processes, concepts, and objects with multiple appropriate visual aids like process diagrams, flowcharts, exploded views and video animations.

  • User-oriented authoring (“profiling”)

Write your text in layers based on the user profile and the level of detail required.

Parting thoughts,

The structured authoring process simplifies the content creation process t a great extent. So, as a technical essay writer , you need to develop clarity on this method. This way, technical essay writing guide will be less time-consuming.

FrankKristopoulos

https://www.facebook.com/frank7u

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