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Reuse: Today's best practice

Content reuse is the practice of using existing components of content to develop new “documents.” Text-based materials are the easiest to reuse. It's easier to reuse graphics, charts and media in their entirety than it is to use portions of them, but it is possible to create reusable media. We focus on text-based reuse in this book.

Most organizations already reuse content by copying and pasting content wherever they need it. This works well until the content has to be updated when it's usually very time-consuming to find and change all those places where the content has been used. Not only does this waste time but you run the real danger of missing some instances of content which can result in inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

Then again, a whole lot of organizations write content, rewrite content and then rewrite again! This may be because one of the following is true:

  • Multiple people are writing the same or very similar content and do not know that someone else has already written it.
  • Everyone feels that their customer and content requirements are different, so the content has to be rewritten.
  • Different authors may be assigned to different media (e.g., one author is responsible for Help, while another is responsible for print and yet another for training materials).
  • Some authors feel it's just too hard to find what is already written, and therefore, it's much faster to write the content from scratch.

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