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The Advantages of Using Templates in Technical Writing

Posted by ElmiraElmirain Technical Writing on 6/7/2023 — 5 minute read

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The way documentation looks is not just text or visuals placed on a page. The appearance of technical information includes a complex system of features.

Some time ago, documentation features were regulated by style guides available in every company. Traditionally, company style guides were based on popular stylebooks such as the Modern Language Association Handbook, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA – probably the most widely used stylebook), Associated Press Stylebook, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.

Style guides worked perfectly well for printable .doc format and PDF documents, providing the basic rules that ensured consistency in technical writing. However, with the transition of documentation to web page format, the ‘visual language’ of documentation has changed. It has become more complex and integrated more visual elements and features.

Modern design elements now include unique typography that allows companies to express their brands through fonts. Other features, like ‘hero images’ that combine slogans and visuals to inspire readers, background videos that play automatically, and more, are also part of the new documentation format, which is closely related to web design and requires management by a web designer.

The challenge is that you cannot hire a designer for every new page of your content, and the tech writers who produce the content struggle to remember all the details regarding typography, visuals, videos, etc. However, there is a solution to this problem.

Today, you can use templates to organize your content and ensure a consistent and appealing appearance throughout the entire website.

This blog will explain how templates can help you create documents with professional design and a unified appearance that aligns with your company’s branding policy. It will also cover how you can customize technical writing templates to meet your company’s requirements.

Templates in Technical Writing

A template is a document with a predefined structure and other features used to create other documents. It can be considered as a generic model from which other documents are derived. Templates offer several advantages, including streamlining the document creation process for writers, providing convenience and attractiveness for readers, and being cost-effective for the company budget.

In other words, templates help present content to the reader. They serve as a visual interface, allowing users to access the necessary information in a convenient and aesthetically pleasing manner.

Common types of templates in technical writing include user manuals, white papers, QSGs (quick start guides), PRDs (product requirements documents), MRDs (market requirements documents), as well as emails, fax forms, etc. For example, email notification templates have predefined formatting for the subject and body of the message, which the system automatically sends to stakeholders (authors, reviewers, readers, etc.) on the scheduled day of the event.

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Advantages of Using Templates in Technical Writing

As mentioned earlier, using templates offers numerous advantages for writers, users, and developers. The main benefits are:

  • Consistency in formatting and style. Templates ensure a unified look and feel throughout the documentation. Without templates, the pages may appear disjointed and unrelated to overall project. By utilizing templates, technical writing becomes much easier as they provide a consistent format for all pages within a project.
  • Saving time and effort. Standard documents, such as MRDs, PRDs, user manuals, etc., hold significant importance. However, creating these documents from scratch every time requires substantial effort. Many of these documents share similarities, resulting in repetitive tasks. Templates alleviate this burden by offering pre-designed models for your documentation, enabling your team to save time and effort.
    Templates are significantly easier to use compared to lengthy style guides. While style guides are necessary for providing reference information on approved content design parameters, using a style guide often requires fishing for every trifling detail of documentation design. In contrast, templates provide immediate access to these details, making the process more efficient.
  • Completeness and accuracy. It is common for certain elements of page layout and design to be overlooked during the documentation development process. This can occur when writers forget about details such as font size or footnotes. Mandatory elements like title blocks and revision tables may also be lost or filled in incorrectly.
    Such things happen quite often, as writers avoid consulting style guides, which results in extra time spent on reading and analyzing the guide rather than focusing on their current work. By using templates, you can ensure accuracy in technical writing, eliminating the risk of losing any page design elements due to human error.
  • Clarity and readability. Templates contribute to improved readability in technical writing by providing a uniform and consistent appearance for your content. Each page’s layout will resemble others in the project, allowing readers to find information more quickly and easily.
  • Enhanced collaboration and teamwork. By providing templates to your employees, they no longer need to start from scratch when creating documents. This boosts productivity as individuals have more time to concentrate on content creation. Additionally, team members can participate in discussions and development of templates, fostering stronger collaboration in technical writing.

The list above is far from being exhaustive, and additional benefits such as advanced code control and compliance assessment can also be mentioned.

Customizing Templates with ClickHelp to Fit Your Needs

Another crucial aspect is that templates are customizable. Once you select a template for your project, you can easily modify it to align with your branding strategy.

Customization is usually achieved by overriding the standard pre-settings. You can see how the adjustments you made are applied to the document by using the preview feature. Without a preview, it would be difficult to comprehend how the customization options influence the user interface (UI).

ClickHelp offers its users a number of ready-made project templates. You can apply these templates to your documents when importing your .doc format content into ClickHelp. The templates will be applied automatically, provided that you choose the option ‘Do not import styles mode.’

In addition, you can customize templates so that your documentation complies with your branding policy and corporate style. Customizing templates is possible because every template includes a CSS file, allowing users to customize cascade style sheets.

To modify the style, you should switch to the Design mode and find the list of CSS files in the Styles section of the Home tab. If you click Manage Project Style Files, you can select the CSS file you want to edit.

Another way to apply and modify templates is by using templates when creating a new topic. This method involves filling a new topic with preset content. The default content can be modified and applied every time a new topic is created. To create a topic template, click Settings, choose Topic Template, and then New Topic Template. You will see an editing area where you can customize the template according to your needs.

different documents


Templates represent a new level in content creation and editing, making it possible for even non-designers to create polished technical documents. With templates, there’s no longer a need to consult lengthy style guides every time you start a new project or want to add a new page to existing content. This saves valuable time and effort for your employees.

Using templates also brings benefits from a budget perspective. In addition to saving working time, you can reduce web design costs since you won’t need to constantly rely on your design team whenever you add new information to the product knowledge base.

Furthermore, templates enhance the user experience (UX) parameters of your content. Readers are provided with consistent and accurate documents, resulting in improved readability overall.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

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