Choosing Authoring Tools: 5 Things to Pay Attention To


Technical writers are responsible for creating documentation for various tasks, including software development. It is not an easy job, but modern business solutions allow you to streamline and simplify many processes. Read below to find out how to choose the best free help authoring tools.

5 Main Criteria to Look for

While the software of different developers may differ slightly and have additional functionality, it is especially important to pay attention to the following aspects when choosing a service.

1. Necessary instruments

The key job of a technical writer is to create content. Therefore, authoring tools should provide the most convenient instruments for it. The functions of a simple word processor should also be supplemented with support for other features, such as importing and exporting materials in different formats. It will not be superfluous to have a built-in spell checker for the languages ​​you plan to work with. To create quality content, you may also need:

  • audio and video materials support;
  • an opportunity to add images, animation, variables, snippets, etc.;
  • convenient formatting and responsive design.

2. Easy navigation

When you process huge amounts of information and work simultaneously on several tasks or projects, convenient navigation and quick search for the right materials significantly speed up many processes. High-quality authoring tools should offer convenient tables of contents, full-text search, and context-sensitive help, allow you to create cross-references inside and outside a system, and other things that ensure effective content management.

3. Collaborative work

Technical writing is a rather complicated process consisting of several stages: writing, editing, proofreading, etc. Several people can be engaged in the work on one document at once. That is why for comfortable interaction, software should be cloud-based and offer a collaboration option. So each involved employee can perform their part of a task and see the overall progress of work. Each is assigned a specific role, within which they can perform certain actions with files, such as editing or commenting.

4. Accessibility

Modern technologies make many tasks accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility is important not only for technical writers themselves but also for those who will read the materials they create. That way, you can make your product available to the broadest audience. A good authoring tool should:

  • comply with Section 508 guidelines;
  • meet WCAG 2.0 standards;
  • provide the opportunity to customize the workspace to the needs of a user.

5. Analytics

For you to continue improving the created product after publication, the service you choose should provide deep analytics. By studying clients’ behavior, you can understand what content they pay more attention to, what they have difficulty understanding, and how to make their experience even better. Various metrics will help you check the strengths and weaknesses of your materials in practice.

Trust Your Personal Experience

Choosing the right authoring documentation tools for you is not an easy task. Experts recommend picking a few software you like according to descriptions and testing them during free trials. So you can fully appreciate the functionality and understand what exactly you need for comfortable work.

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