Topic-based Writing, With Examples

Topic-based writing is a modern approach to technical documentation that focuses on creating standalone topics or chunks of information that can be easily reused, reorganized, and updated.

So, instead of writing long, linear documents, writers create individual topics that address a single concept or task.

These topics can then be combined in various ways to create different types of documents or outputs.

This approach is particularly handy for online help systems, software documentation, and any situation where content needs to be customized for different audiences or platforms.  

Topic-based writing is the future of user-friendly documentation! 📖 #TechWritingTrends  

Examples: 🔦

Imagine that a software company developed a photo editing application. Instead of creating a single, lengthy user manual, they decide to use topic-based writing for their documentation.    

1. Topic: Importing Photos

💥 How to import photos from a computer.

💥 Supported file formats.

💥 Troubleshooting common import issues.  

2. Topic: Basic Photo Editing

💥 How to crop and rotate photos.

💥 Adjusting brightness and contrast.

💥 Applying filters.

3. Topic: Advanced Editing Techniques

💥 Using layers and masks.

💥 Colour correction.

💥 Retouching and cloning.

4. Topic: Exporting and Sharing

💥 Saving photos in different formats.

💥 Sharing photos on social media.

💥 Printing photos.


Each topic can stand alone, meaning a user looking for information on Basic Photo Editing doesn’t have to sift through information on Importing Photos or Advanced Editing Techniques.

Also, if the software company releases a new feature related to photo sharing, they can simply create a new topic without having to rewrite an entire manual.  

Furthermore, if the company wants to create a quick start guide for beginners, they can combine the Importing Photos and Basic Photo Editing topics.  

If they want to create an advanced guide, they can combine the Advanced Editing Techniques and Exporting and Sharing topics.  

This modular approach makes the documentation more user-friendly and simplifies the process of updating and customizing content.  

Published by veronicaaphillip

Founder | Documentation Engineer | Business Process Coach | Certified Sr. Technical Writer

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