It is no longer necessary to take up the cudgels for a standardization project for technical information. Everyone is convinced that the fight for survival in the information overload jungle can only be won with systematic development and the cross-media reuse of standardized information.

The focus of information standardization is on determining suitable rules that are defined in writing in an authoring guideline. The authoring guideline here comprises all aspects of authoring, from the rules of rule-based authoring up to publication in accordance with a target group-oriented media concept.

p>A coordinated terminology management ensures the consistent usage of your technical terms. This provides comprehensibility and reduces translation costs. authoring guidelines and terminology management provide an important basis for using authoring assistance tools.

Authoring guidelines

An authoring guideline is an internal company standard. It regulates the consistency and quality of the product documentation and allows it to be produced economically.

Nowadays, most companies have authoring guidelines that contain common rules for comprehensible and translation-oriented documentation. Nevertheless, it is observable that the quality of documentation does not meet the standard. Frequent causes are:

  • The rules are not found or not understood.
  • The guideline is not adapted to the working method and the information requirements of the authoring department.
  • The basic rules do not take the requirements of the target group into account.

When an authoring guideline is developed, the product-related, legal and standard-related requirements as well as corporate requirements for the documentation to be created have to be taken into account, in addition to the working method and the information requirements of the target group. This is all taken into account by the procedure model for the development of an authoring guideline according to functional design.

It begins with the detailed analysis of the normative and target group-oriented requirements for the product documentation. These requirements are used to derive the communication needs: Who needs what information and how do they have to be addressed? The writing and structuring rules are limited and tailored to the communicative needs and designated and classified according to their communicative function (example: "action prompt" prompts the reader to perform an action). The structure of the guideline follows the sequence in which content is created in the authoring department. Due to clear names for the rules, directories and links, it offers alternative entry points at the same time and thus provides optimum support to information developers in the authoring process.

Rule-based and translation-oriented authoring

Rule-based and translation-oriented authoring refers to collections of writing rules whose compilation has a particular focus, for example the verifiability of rules in an authoring assistance tool or the reduction of translator queries.

Such collections can be integrated in a comprehensive authoring guideline for the Technical Documentation department or apply as basic rules throughout the company.

We determine the focus of your writing rules together with you. We check existing documents for rules that are already implicitly used. For your writing rules we use existing rule collections such as the tekom guideline on rule-based writing or simplified English.

As a result of our work on the tekom guideline for rule-based writing and our many years of experience, you will profit from extensive background knowledge of the origin, purpose and hurdles when using individual writing rules or entire rule sets. You will achieve a consistent image with your information products and increase the efficiency in particular authoring processes.

Authoring assistance tools

The term "authoring assistance" has become established in technical communication especially for software that helps users to select desired sentences and words.

In order to select a suitable authoring assistance tool, we first determine the area of application of the tool. Together with you, we select the relevant rules of your authoring guideline or create machine-verifiable rules for you. We support you in the tool selection and the implementation of the desired rules, and we plan the productive use of the tool with you.

Your advantage

  • Simplified and reliable updating of rules
  • Integration of entire sets of rules in the writing process
  • Optimum support of employees who only write occasionally

Media concept

The media concept describes the optimum implementation of the customer's information needs in information products and media.

Information products are compilations of information for a particular purpose and in particular media such as static texts, interactive contents, graphics, design drawings, animations and videos and can be optimally displayed and used on target platforms such as smartphones, tablet PC's and virtual devices. Technical documentation is printed less and less. Electronic production and distribution in different types of media is the rule. Each type of media has its own advantages and disadvantages and has to be produced according to its own requirements. In addition, the different media must interact optimally and be perceived by the users as a coherent overall concept.

The media-independent structuring method functional design allows all information needs to be precisely covered in the correspondingly suitable medium or in a suitable media combination. We consistently follow the information needs of the target groups and avoid expensive media production that is not in accordance with needs.

Terminology management

Terminology management defines, organizes and distributes the vocabulary on which your corporate language is based.

To put it in other words – what is praised at school and is usual in politics frequently leads to misunderstandings and increased translation costs in day-to-day business. The collection, analysis and revision of the existing terminology forms the basis of a consistent corporate language that not only reduces costs and avoids misunderstandings but also leads to recognizability in the market.

Since terminology is a company-wide topic, it is not only necessary to create a coordinated basic stock of terminology but above all to establish responsibility and sustainable processes that lead to accepted language rules.

On the basis of your existing information, we determine the currently used terminology. Together with you, we uncover synonyms and other ambiguities and determine your preferred terms. We design a process with which you can supplement and manage your terminology. If necessary, we suggest tools that allow you to make optimum use of the terminology at your company.

Your advantage

  • Reduction of translation costs
  • Avoidance of misunderstandings in internal and external communication
  • Competitive advantage through the reduction of response times in customer service



Authoring Assistance in Technical Communication

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