Reference-Based DITA Topics

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a task-based DITA topic about preparing a fried egg.  (Before that, I wrote about how learning DITA has been on my “learning bucket list” and how I wrote my first few DITA topics.)

With DITA, the text (what we technical communicators call “content”) has to be properly categorized according to the type of information being provided. (I already covered task info in the earlier blog post.) Another common type of DITA topic is that of reference info.

At the time of that last blog post, I gave a few caveats, one of which said the topic was focused solely on the task itself.

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Task-Based DITA Topic

A few days ago, I wrote about how learning DITA has been on my “learning bucket list” and how I wrote my first few DITA topics.

When I was in college getting my B.A. degree in Professional Writing, for 1 of the assignments, the professor asked us to write instructions for how to make a peanut butter sandwich.

Following that strategy, the DITA topics I’ve written so far are also focused on food…more specifically, a breakfast staple…eggs!

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Laying a Solid Documentation Foundation

The concept at the core of technical communication is writing well…but it’s more than that. There are styles to define, templates to design, formats to follow, workflows to formalize, technical subjects to learn, software to master, and documentation assembly and delivery methods to understand.

Every now and then, a concept comes along that makes you rethink the foundation that you’ve laid (and subsequently become dependent upon).

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In Technical Communication, Templates and Style Guide Materials Must Also Evolve

As technical communicators, we often think about the information being presented and the format and style in which it will be presented.

But, once we’ve established a template and a workflow that supports it, we become unshakeable and steadfast in our adherence and use of those.

And those formats and styles work great for awhile…until they don’t.

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