Single-sourcing – do we really reuse as much as said?

There has been a lot said on single-sourcing – about tools, techniques, methods, and so on. But two aspects of single-sourcing are: reuse of content and modular writing. Here is how I look at single-sourcing:

Click on image to see comparison

The latest news is that Adobe has a FrameMaker version with DITA capabilities. Then we also have Adobe Technical Communication Suite with these components:

  • FrameMaker 8
  • RoboHelp 7
  • Adobe Captivate 3
  • Acrobat 9 Pro Extended

So it all has to do with how content is written. Ideal single-source content should be without hyperlinks or linked references but in reality that is not possible. So why DITA? DITA provides a standard for structuring topics and content within topics. This standard is based on three broad information categories into which almost all technical information can be classified: task, concept, and reference.”

Yet the question remains: how much of information do we really reuse?

More books on technical writing

Here are other books that I found to be very useful:

Technical writing – general

  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Technical Writing by Krista Van Laan, Catherine Julian, JoAnn Hackos
  • Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Documentation by Alan S. Pringle, Sarah S. O’Keefe
  • Technical Writing: A Practical Approach by William Sanborn Pfeiffer
  • Professional and Technical Writing: Problem Solving at Work by George E. Kennedy, Tracy T. Montgomery
  • Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors (2nd Edition) (IBM Press Series–Information Management) by Gretchen Hargis, Michelle Carey, Ann Kilty Hernandez, Polly Hughes, Deirdre Longo, Shannon Rouiller, Elizabeth Wilde

Technical communication

  • Technical Communication by E. Burnett
  • Designing Visual Language: Strategies for Professional Communicators (Part of the Allyn & Bacon Series in Technical Communication) by Charles Kostelnick, David D. Roberts

Software documentation

  • Writing Software Documentation: A Task-Oriented Approach (Part of the Allyn & Bacon Series in Technical Communication) by Thomas T. Barker
  • The User Manual Manual: How to Research, Write, Test, Edit & Produce a Software Manual (Untechnical Press Books for Writers Series.) by Michael Bremer


  • Technical Writing Style (Part of the Allyn & Bacon Series in Technical Communication) by Dan Jones
  • Elements of Style by Strunk & White
  • Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications Third Edition (Paperback) by Microsoft Corporation
  • The Chicago Manual of Style 13th Ed
  • The Gregg Reference Manual – Wililam J Sabin
  • Style and Readability in Technical Writing: A Sentence-Combining Approach by James Degeorge


  • Untechnical Writing – How to Write About Technical Subjects and Products So Anyone Can Understand (Untechnical Press Books for Writers Series) by Michael Bremer
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies) (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies) by Mike Kuniavsky
  • User and Task Analysis for Interface Design by Hackos, JoAnn & Redish, Janice C.
  • Human-Computer Interaction by Alan Dix, Janet E. Finlay, Gregory D. Abowd, Russell Beale


  • Managing Documentation Projects by Jo Ann Hackos
  • Starting a Documentation Group: A Hands-On Guide by Peter J. Hartman


  • Technical Editing by Carolyn Rude
  • Editing Technical Writing by Donald C. Samson


  • Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss
  • Words by Bill Bryson
  • Elements of Technical Writing by Gary Blake & Robert W. Bly
  • Understanding and Using English Grammar – Betty Schrampfer Azar


  • Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (ISBN: 0877798087)

Online communication

  • Standards for Online Communication – JoAnn T Hackos
  • Writing Online Help by Lindsey


  • Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
  • Paper Prototyping: The Fast and Easy Way to Design and Refine User Interfaces (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies) by Carolyn Snyder
  • A Practical Guide to Usability Testing by Joseph S. Dumas, Oracle Corporation, and Janice C. Redish, Redish & Associates

Single sourcing

  • Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation by Kurt Ament


  • Indexing: A Nuts-and-Bolts Guide for Technical Writers (Engineering Reference) by Kurt Ament
  • Software for Indexing by American Society of Indexers (Corporate Author), Sandi Schroeder (Editor)

Software-development approach

  • Agile Documentation: A Pattern Guide to Producing Lightweight Documents for Software Projects (Wiley Software Patterns Series)
  • Understanding and using English Grammar – Betty Schrampfer Azar
  • Standards for online Communication – JoAnn T. Hackos and Dawn M. Stevens
  • The Chicago Manual of Style 13th Ed
  • Managing Documentation Projects by Jo Ann Hackos
  • The Gregg Reference Manual – Wililam J Sabin
  • Human Factors for Technical Communicators – by Marlana Coe

Books I have on technical writing, advertising, copywriting, and news writing…

Books I have on technical writing, advertising, copywriting, and news writing:

1. Developing on line help for Windows – Scott Boggan, David Farhas, Joe Welinkse – Thomson Computer Press
2. Writing and reporting news – a coaching method – Carol Rich – Wadsworth
3. Bill Bryson’s Troublesome Words
4. Starting a documentation group – a hands on approach – Peter J Hartman
5. Technical marketing communication (Allyn & Bacon Series) – Sandra W. Harner, Tom G. Zimmerman – Longman
6. 100 writing remedies (practical exercises for technical writing) Edmond Weiss – University Press
7. How to edit technical documents – Donald W Bush, Charles P Campbell – University Press
8. Single Sourcing – Building Modular Documentation – Kurt Amnet (William Andrew Publishers)
9. The ACS style guide, a manual for autors and editors – Janet S Dodd (ACS)
10. The craft of copywriting – Alistair Crompton – Random House
11. The craft of copywriting – Valldares – Response Books
12. Ogilvy on Advertising – Vintage Publishers
13. Brand Positioning – strategies for competitive advantage – Subroto Sen gupta – Tata Mc Graw Hill
14. Kleppners Advertising Procedure – J Thomas Russell, W. Ronal Lane – Prentice hall
15. Writing down the bones – Natalie Goldberg – Shambala Publ.
16. Writing Software Documentation, a task-oriented approach by Thomas Barker – Pearson Education
17. The Elements of Stayle – William Strunk and White – Longman
18. Indexing – Kurt Amnet – William Andrew Oublishing
19. Microsoft manual of Style for Technical Publications – Microsoft – Prentice Hall
20. Positioning, the battle for you mind – Al Ries, Jack trout , et al – Tata Mc Graw Hill
21. Revision Strategies in Writing – Nirmal Oberoi – Creative
22. Basics of Instructional Design – NIIT – Prentice Hall
23. Stephen king – On Writing – Pocket Books
24. The Elements of Technical Writing – Gary Blake and Robert Bly – Longman
25. Eats shoots and leaves – Lynne Truss – Profile Books
26. Writing – a college workbook – James AW Heffernan, John E Lincoln, Lindy Moore – Norton
27. How to communicate Technical Information – a handbook of software and hardware documentation – Dr, Jonathan Price – Addison Wesley
28. Developing Quality Technical Information – a handbook for writers and editors (IBM) Prentice Hall

Of course, I don’t intend to lend them as borrowed books never come back 🙂