ClickHelp User Manual

Projects vs. Publications

First of all, let's clarify what the terms 'project' and 'publication' mean, then we describe the differences between the two concepts.


A project is "a draft" of your manual created by an author, and it is a place for your authors and reviewers to work together on a user guide. Your portal readers can't see your projects' content or the list of projects. When working in a tech writing team, you can conduct documentation review inside projects by giving your Reviewers access to specific projects using Reviewer Roles.

When you're ready to deliver something to your readers, you perform the Publish action for your project. As a result, the system creates a Publication.


A Publication is a "snapshot" of your project content (or a part of it) taken at some point in time, which you make available to your readers. When you perform the Publish action for a Project in ClickHelp, the system will apply the parameters you configure in the publishing wizard and create a Publication. The Publication content will be separated from your project content - Publications have their TOC and topics. This means that you can keep making changes to your project, and they will not affect the Publication of this project. To push the changes to a Publication from a Project, you will perform the Publish action and use the Update mode to put the latest topic content into an existing Publication.

Publications in a portal can have several visibility levels:

  • Private. Available only for authors and Reviewers (after login). This visibility level is useful when you export your content to some downloadable format like PDF, and creating a publication is just an intermediate step.
  • Restricted. Available for authors,  Reviewers, and Power Readers (after login). This visibility level is used to create password-protected documentation - your readers will need to log in to read.
  • Public. Available for everyone (no login required). Search engines may also index such publications, so their topics will appear in the search results in Google, Bing, etc.

Projects vs. Publications

Now, let us outline the main differences between these two notions:

  • Projects are drafts that only authors and reviewers can see; publications are the final versions of your manuals available to readers. 
  • You can export publications in different printed formats such as PDF, EPUB, or DOCX. To learn more, refer to this topic: Create a PDF Manual.
  • You can edit publications as well as projects. Editing a Publication directly may be needed to quickly fix a typo in a published manual without going through the publishing process. Remember that changes made directly to publications will also have to be done in the project.
  • Projects and publications have something in common: topics, TOC, styles, scripts, files, settings, etc. When creating a publication, you get a copy of all these elements. However, elements related to single-sourcing and dynamic output (snippets, conditional blocks, variables, navigation elements) are compiled into the final HTML code rather than staying as they are.

It's possible to manage access to projects and non-public publications for Author users. To learn more, refer to this topic: Project Access for Authors.