Create an outline

Content management techniques

Before starting to write the content of this manual, we developed a draft outline with a topic heading for every chapter, followed by a general concept or reference, and then tasks or steps. We recommend that you do something similar (if only to help establish how much work lies ahead of you). Some of the things you may want to include in your outline are:

  • Introduction: Describes the purpose and structure of your document and any conventions used.
  • Getting Started: Tells your reader how to get started, and can give a general overview of the subject matter. This section often includes quick reference information so your reader can do the most basic tasks without reading the entire document. You can include links to more in-depth topics.
  • Main Content: The main content of your document varies according to the subject, and can include descriptive, procedure, and reference information.
  • Glossaries: It's good to include one or more glossaries to describe terms that may be foreign to your audience. In your Help and Web document outputs, Author-it can automatically find occurrences of these terms in the text of each topic and create a hypertext link to their definitions.
  • Index: Probably one of the most important aspects of a good print document, and is often neglected. After all, if readers can't find the information they need, then the information, no matter how good, becomes useless. Author-it will help you by automatically creating a basic index, and by providing powerful indexing tools. However, it will be up to you to ensure that a good index is created.

The key when defining your content is not to include too much information inside any one topic. Break your topics into easy-to-handle units, so each deals with only one or two specific points.