Tips for Getting Writers to Comply with New Standards

Scenario: After getting several reports of customers complaining about the user guides for their products, the technical communications managers spend weeks developing new guidelines to make their content more consistent and clean up the vocabulary used by the writers. They create a list of acceptable and unacceptable terminology. Then, they hand over the packet of new guidelines to their team of writers. The writers get to work.

After a few weeks, the managers realize that the writers aren’t consistently instituting these new rules, causing the content they collectively produce to be discordant. So how can the managers get the writers to comply with the new guidelines? Here are some tips to consider:

Tips for Customizing Generic Content

If you buy a car with a GPS but no MP3 player, you may want the documentation to include instructions for operating the GPS but not include the instructions for operating the MP3 player. Or if you have a Macintosh computer, you may want your antivirus software documentation to include only the Macintosh instructions—not the Windows instructions.

Organizations that sell a product that has variables for each client or for different situations may have a need to produce customized documentation. A content management system has several ways to help writers accomplish this in an automated way while maintaining a high level of content reuse: