The rules given in the Technical Writers’ Companion are meant to provide you with helpful guidelines—not to be followed slavishly.
The Companion can only provide general recommendations. It can’t provide any individual advice, and it can’t give you prefabricated texts that you only need to put together. However, the Companion can help to make your process of creating user assistance more efficient, and it can help to vastly improve the quality of the outcome.
Important: The Technical Writers’ Companion can’t provide individual advice; in particular, it can’t provide any legal advice. Before shipping your products and before publishing any content, make sure that you also follow all relevant standards, laws, and other regulations that are applicable for both your own country and for all countries in which you sell your products. All rules that are given in these standards, laws, and other regulations take precedence over the recommendations given in the Technical Writers’ Companion.
The order of topics in the table of contents reflects the order of tasks that you typically need to perform:
▪First, you need to analyze the requirements and can then develop the global information architecture. This step is covered by the first major section: Structuring.
▪When you know your goal, you can then begin to design and set up the templates for your documents, starting with the global page and screen layout, going down to paragraph styles and character styles in detail. This step is covered by the second major section: Designing.
▪When you’ve set up the information architecture and prepared the templates for your documents, you’re now ready for the main task: Creating content. This step is covered by the third and by the fourth major section: Writing and Visualizing.