Writing Tips for Greater Content Reuse

Content management systems are all about content reuse, because content reuse can provide faster production cycles, major cost savings and greater content integrity. If you publish to more than one language…if you publish to more than one media channel…or if you create content for multiple products that have a lot of similarities, then you want to get the highest content reuse rate possible.

You might have a reuse rate of 50% – that’s great! But could it be better? (Chances are, the answer is Yes…we’ve seen reuse rates as high as 90%!) Are there other things you can do to increase your content reuse? Here is a list of writing ideas for tweaking your content that could improve your reuse rates:

Keep it short and sweet.

Let’s face it – when people are looking up “how to” instructions for a product or researching information on a specific term or topic, they typically scan the content for the basic information. So, minimize your writing efforts by sticking to the facts and eliminating the fluff. Use style guides and controlled vocabulary to maintain a consistent and brief message. Give your customers only the information they need – and will read.

Smaller, streamlined topics of content are more reusable across product lines, and they can also be easier to work with across media channels. For example, a larger topic might work well in a printed document, but may be difficult to display in a Help file.

And, if you publish to multiple languages, less words = less translation costs. Additionally, more content reuse = less unique words = less translation costs! This is another big benefit of minimalistic writing.

So, keep your content short and sweet for maximum reuse.

Separate content from context.

Keep your content free of context (try to say that one three times!). For example, there’s no need to bog your content down with information about which documents a topic is used in. As a matter of fact, the CMS automatically tracks this information in its reuse features. The CMS provides other ways of indicating and tracking context without contaminating your content. Cleaner content = greater content reuse.

Separate content from style.

When writing content, focus on the quality of the content itself; don’t worry about what it will look like when it is published (i.e., font, point size, color). In a CMS, content is stored independent of its style, allowing writers to concentrate on the consistency and integrity of the pure content. As content is published in various formats – print, web, PDF – different styles can be applied to the same reused content modules.

Keep it anonymous.

Generalize your content when writing topics that could be reused for multiple purposes. Eliminate specific product names, company names, branding, or platforms. Replace cross-references to page numbers (e.g., see page 45), position on a page (e.g., the table below) and other topics with more generic content. Use conditional text to keep your base content plain while customizing it for various documents. Conditional text can be helpful in boosting your reuse rates.

Call us at 717-764-9720 or visit our website for help in getting started with your content management strategy.