Writing help documentation can be a very long process. If you have a complicated product to explain it's not unusual for them to be several hundred help pages, and even a fairly simple product may need a manual of 50 or 100 topics.
It isn't just the length of help documents that can make them complicated to write. If your manual is going to be useful to your readers then you need to make sure every function of the product is included in the documentation, and that every aspect of the product is described accurately, and in a way that will be helpful to your end user.
With so much information to include, organizing your help documentation and completing it in a timely manner can be a serious challenge for any technical writer. Fortunately there is a way to write help documents faster, include everything you need to cover and still create a high quality professional document that can be produced in a variety of formats.
By creating your help documentation using a help authoring tool you will be able to benefit from many features designed to make creating help documents simpler. There are several free help authoring tools available to download, one of the most popular is HelpNDoc. This help authoring software includes:
- An easy to understand user interface
- A fully featured word processor
- A topic editor
- An integrated media library
- An extensive template system
- And much more...
Each of these features can be used to improve your help document writing. You can write your manuals quickly within the help authoring software using the word processor and then easily check and modify your documents as needed with the supplied tools. The table of contents editor makes it simple to ensure that all the subjects you need to write about are included within the manual. If you want to expand or edit one of the topics there is no need to search through the whole document looking for the section you need to change. You can find it quickly using the table of contents editor.
The media library makes it easy to include images, videos, documents, and other media files within your help documentation. You can check that you have remembered to include each file and that none have been duplicated by mistake. If you need to replace one of the files you only need to change it in the library, and every instance of that file is changed throughout the whole document.
Once you have completed your help manual, the help authoring tool can output the document in a format of your choice, or even multiple formats if your prefer. You can quickly create help documents in PDF, ePub, CHM, HTML or whatever format best suits your purposes.
These are a few of the ways that using a help authoring tool can improve the quality of your help manuals, and at the same time speed up the writing process by making it much more efficient. With a help authoring software, authors now only have to concentrate on the writing process. The formatting, arranging, and editing of your documentation can now take up much less time when you employ a help authoring software.