Analyze topic content before creating structures

Structured Authoring

When you use structured authoring your topics are created using a mix of structure rules and an understanding of the content that should be used (based on your company's style guide).

Before you create your structures you need to analyze the content requirements.

  1. Define the requirements for each of your topic types. Write a list of rules that describe the content used in the topic.
    • What type of information is the topic used for? For example, an overview, a procedure, detailed reference material, or a slide in a sales presentation.
    • What formatting styles should be used in the topic?
    • How is the topic laid out?
    • Is there any maximum length for the content? For example, a brief description should be no longer than two to three paragraphs, or can a detailed description be up to ten paragraphs and include images.
    • When the topic includes procedure steps, how should the steps be written?
    • When the topic includes steps do you enforce the use of a procedure heading?
    • In a list what formatting should the first list item use?
    • Is there any limitation on the number of items allowed in the list?
  2. Define the structure rules that meet the requirements of the content rules you've identified. When you have a clear understanding of the content used in the topic you can easily transfer those requirements to the structure rules.
  3. Create an example topic that is a model for how the final, structured topic should appear.
  4. Test the structure validation against a small selection of topics. Check the validation for the content in each of the topics. Does the content pass or fail validation? If topics fail validation analyze their content to find out why they failed. Decide if the topics need to be rewritten to pass validation, or should the structure be fine tuned?