Topic-based Authoring

When you create company materials such as the forms and manuals you use, or when you hire a marketing agency to create content (or even a law firm to produce contracts, etc.) you are generating various multi-source documents that are each housed separately in different formats and as completely different sources.  However, if things were centralized into a single source publishing file using topic-based authoring, you can then create, manage, and output everything from your training manuals, to your specific lunch and dinner menus (if you're a restaurant) from one centralized source.  And using topics, you can decide what content you would like to create, depending on your target audience.

Misconceptions about Topic-based Authoring

Topic-based authoring has to first be understood.  It is not content variation, although it can be source content translated into multiple languages (i.e., an English source, turned Spanish output).

Ktllc uses single sourcing and topic-based authoring in its content creation service modules specifically because its a great way to centralize content based on topics.  Moreover, we write authority content from a article writing perspective as we find it necessary for topics to “stand alone” and not be dependent on other topics.

Technical writer Tom Johnson of says, [taq]“The real heart of technical instruction doesn't lie in the step-by-step how to information, the 1-2-3.  It lies in understanding concepts and how they work together to produce an end.”[/taq]

We could not agree more, and why Ktllc writes content from a understanding concepts first and then infusing how they work together to produce end results approach.  We could have created our Ktllc site with pages filled with descriptions of our services, with the amateur assumption that every visitor would know what we are offering or talking about.  Or, we could go this route as we have and provide insights, scope, and a “help me understand the concept” approach before we iterate how it can work to the benefit of your marketing goals.

Misconception: Using topic-based authoring to generate bulk content.  The reality is that content creation is a form information design.  Presenting information in a way that fosters understanding.

Misconception: Using topic-based authoring to database content.  Although content is cataloged in the central source file, the intent is to have a single edit source, not to just warehouse data.

Misconception: Topic-based authoring is only for technical documentation.  As stated above, topic-based authoring from a article writing and concept sharing and discussing perspective is far from technical manual writing.  Although technical writing and authoring tools enable one to create a 1,000 page software technical manual, topic based writing is beneficial when used for stand alone topics.

Using Topic-based Authoring in a Company

Topic-based authoring enables you to create and organize content based on topics, enabling you to publish segmented or even filtered content for your specific audiences, based on your desired level of information inclusion.


How Does Topic-based Authoring Benefit Me?

Using topic-based authoring to create content, you have the ability to create, store and centrally edit everything your organization will need, such as:

  • company web content
  • media publications
  • policy manuals
  • training manuals
  • playbooks
  • brochures
  • guides
  • etc.

Say we have a property management company and they have certain internal company forms and procedures.  Likewise, they have dedicated forms and leases for tenants.  Furthermore, they have certain employee forms and employee manuals and maybe even safety procedures.  Finally, they have certain marketing materials for prospective tenants, and even a Q&A in the form of a tenant brochure and guide.

Using topic-based authoring, they can create their entire property management business playbook, including all employee and tenant components (topics).  They can then output only those parts applicable to each of their segmented audiences!  For example, they can publish a print version of their tenant rules and procedures for new tenants, while simultaneously publishing it to their website (and all the related output devices such as tablets and smartphones).  Or, they can output the employee version of tenant rules and procedures for employee training.  Finally, they can create content that is only accessible by paying tenants vs the limited free versions available to non-tenants.


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