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William Andrew Publishing Technical Writing Series: Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0815514916
ISBN-10: 0815514913
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The book is an easy read and is chock full of tips and guidelines." -Ann Rockley

From the Inside Flap

Single sourcing is a method for developing re-usable information. Although project planning and document conversion are essential to any single sourcing project, it is modular writing that ultimately determines success.

This book explains in plain language and by example how to build modular documentation you can re-use in different formats for different audiences and purposes. It includes a conceptual overview of the single sourcing method, a 10-step process for transforming linear documents into modular documents, and detailed writing guidelines. The guidelines show you how to structure content, configure language, and leverage technology to maximize the usability and re-usability of your documents.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • Publisher: William Andrew; 1 edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815514913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815514916
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The concept of modular content is central to single sourcing, but until now there was very little information available on how to actually design and create effective modular documentation. Now Kurt Ament has created the book that helps you do just that.
"Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation" provides a clear and concise introduction to building modular documentation. The book is divided into five parts.
Chapter 1 "About single sourcing" introduces the concepts of single sourcing including the reasons, benefits, types, and what makes single sourcing successful.
Chapter 2 "Building documents" gets right into the heart of the subject by providing a 10 step process for building modular documentation including how to identify, label, organize, build, and edit modules then build documents from your modules. He also emphasizes the importance of developing guidelines for authors to follow.
Chapter 3 "Structuring content" provides guidelines on creating structured content. Guidelines are provided for such common content types as procedures, glossaries, examples, indexes, notes, troubleshooting scenarios, and many more.
Chapter 4, "Configuring Language" emphasizes that good modular content is more than just "chunks" of information; it is well written content. This chapter provides guidelines for developing consistent standards for writing content such as abbreviations, capitalization, punctuation, tense, and voice.
Chapter 5, "Leveraging technology" provides an introduction to how you can use technology to support your single sourcing effort.
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Format: Paperback
The entire approach given in this book is consistent enough with Information Mapping® that it can serve as a guide to learning that highly effective technique on your own.
I was trained in Information Mapping® in 2000 and have used the principles to excellent advantage since then. More importantly, those techniques - called 'single sourcing' in this book - foster the ability to create coherent documentation using geographically distributed teams. This is because the single sourcing technique described in this book is concerned with document design, which is based on a process that identifies requirements and bases the initial draft on procedures and knowledge instead of the more common approach of writing an ad hoc outline.
At the heart of the author's single sourcing approach is a concept called 'chunking' - grouping information into manageable chunks - and factors such as relevance and consistency. When these are employed the cost-effectiveness of the method becomes apparent for two reasons:
(1) Documents written by teams are consistent and developed using a set process.
(2) Components within the documents - blocks - can be reused in other documents because they will address a specific, relevant topic (a chunk).
What I like about this book is the fact that it makes Information Mapping® available to anyone who will take the time to read this book and apply the principles. I also like way it offers an off-the-shelf solution to any company that wants to implement a cost-effective, highly efficient documentation standard that supports readable documentation that can be used instead of 'shelfware'.
The best way to learn about this book is to visit the official Information Mapping® site (ASIN B0000B01VZ) upon which many of the principles in this book are based.
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Format: Paperback
Kurt Ament has hit the nail on the head! His latest effort, "Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation" is a valuable reference for those of us who seek to save time, effort, and money by implementing a productive method of creating information once and reusing it often.
Ament covers the issues -- step by step -- that many others only discuss. He lays out a simple roadmap, complete with real world examples that have worked -- or not worked -- for his clients.
In Chapter 1 (About Single Sourcing), he carefully defines "single sourcing" and explains related concepts (reusable content, modular writing, and assembled documents) in ways that are easy to understand and free of techno-jargon. And, he does us all a big favor by addressing the negatives associated with using technology to assemble documents by explaining that it actually takes more creativity to write content that can fit into multiple media, for multiple audiences, than it does to continually rewrite information over and over again each time it is needed.
Chapter 2 (Building Documents) and Chapter 3 (Structuring Content) are of particular value to those seeking to understand the shift in thinking required to master single sourcing. Writers, programmers and managers will all benefit from these chapters. Each chapter is packed full of tips and examples you can begin using today!
Chapter 4 (Configuring Language) explains how to "configure" your writing to support and increase usability while Chapter 5 (Leveraging Technology) touches on issues including conditional text, conventions, localization, translation, variables and more. As are the previous chapters, Chapter 5 is written in clear, concise language and is not a chapter business types should skip. In fact, it's just the opposite.
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