Presented by Pamela Kostur at Documentation and Training West, May 6-9, 2008 in Vancouver, BC
Writing modular content that can easily be reused is important not only when working in a content management environment, but also in the world of everyday technical communication. Technical communicators are being called upon more and more to create reusable content and to reuse content that others produce.
There are several good reasons to adopt writing for reuse, among them:
* Writing for reuse is efficient. It’s costly for several people to create the same product description (or procedure or error message) over and over again. Instead, one person can create it for all uses, based on a standard that accommodates all uses.
* Writing for reuse helps to ensure consistency. When the same product description is used for the manual, the online help, and the brochure, you can rest assured it is consistent.
* Writing for reuse helps to make content more usable. When writing for reuse, it’s critical that you follow standards, which are based on usability. Standards ensure that similar types of content are structured in similar ways. Everyone writing a product description follows the standard for the product description, making it both reusable and usable.
* Writing for reuse helps users to navigate through content. Reusable content is written in modules with clearly defined labels identifying the content’s purpose. Modules can be arranged to accommodate different users and users; the modularity can also help users to easily identify and select the information they need.
* Writing for reuse is efficient for you, for the company you work for, and for your users. However, writing for reuse is different than “starting from scratch” or from writing a in the narrative form that many of us have learned and followed for several years.
This workshop will convince you of the importance of writing for reuse and show you how to do it!