This glossary explains terms that are related to technical writing and to software documentation. Possibly, the terms have other meanings in different contexts.

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a-z index (a to z index)
Refer to index.
access key
With websites, an access key is a character key that a user can press to select a hyperlink or a field in a form.
Accessibility is a measure of how accessible a product is. Accessibility measures the level to which people with disabilities can use a product. (A product can be software, services, or buildings.) Refer also to Section 508; usability.
active voice
The active voice is a structure of English in which the grammatical subject does the action that is represented by the verb. Example: The technician opened the door. (The grammatical subject is the technician. The verb is (to) open.) Refer also to passive voice.
AECMA Simplified English
Refer to ASD Simplified Technical English.
agile software development
Refer to the Agile Manifesto ( Refer also to Scrum.
application documentation
Refer to documentation.
An appendix is text that is near the end a book. Usually, an appendix contains these things:
  • Information that helps some people, but which other people do not need.
  • Information that is not important, but which some people want to know about.
An appendix is part of the end matter.
ASD Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100)
ASD Simplified Technical English is a controlled language for the preparation of maintenance documentation. Before issue 3, ASD Simplified Technical English was known as AECMA Simplified English.
ASD-STE100 is the specification for ASD Simplified Technical English.
aspect ratio
An aspect ratio is the ratio of one dimension to a different dimension.
audience analysis
Audience analysis is the identification of the requirements of users. Refer also to task analysis; training needs analysis. Audience analysis is also known as 'user analysis' or 'audience research'.
authoring memory
Authoring memory is software that helps technical authors to write consistently. Source text is stored in a database. When a technical author writes text that is similar to text in the database, the software supplies the stored text to the technical author. If the stored text is suitable, the technical author can use it. Refer also to controlled language; controlled vocabulary; translation memory.
automated language translation
Refer to machine translation.
automated translation
Refer to machine translation.

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back matter
Back matter is the American English name for end matter.
back-of-the-book index
Refer to index.
A bibliography is a list of books, articles, web pages, or other documents. Usually, the documents in the list are related to the content of the primary document. For example, the documents contain background information.
A blog is type of website. Usually, one person regularly publishes short articles. Frequently, readers can make comments about each article.
A breadcrumb is a navigation aid on a user interface. Refer to 'Breadcrumbs In Web Design: Examples And Best Practices' (
browse sequence
A browse sequence is a navigation method in online documentation. A browse sequence is similar in concept to a wizard. Users click a button or a hyperlink to view the next topic or the previous topic in a set of topics. Usually, the topics are read in sequence.
bulleted list
A bulleted list is an unordered list that uses bullets (•) or other marks to show the start of each item in the list. Refer also to the terms in this bulleted list:

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A callout is text and a line that points to an area on a graphic. For example:
Canadian binding
Canadian binding is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are held together with wire. The wire spine has a cover.
A caption is a label for a graphic.
Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)
A Cascading Style Sheet is a set of rules that specify how a web browser displays an HTML page. The advantages of CSS instead of HTML formatting are as follows:
  • The style is controlled in one location, and changes are automatically applied to all HTML pages.
  • The file size of each HTML page is smaller (sometimes by 50% or more). Therefore, documents can be downloaded more quickly.
  • Accessibility is improved.
The international CSS standards are available from
Refer to e-learning.
CHM Help
Refer to compiled HTML Help.
Refer to component content management system.
Refer to content management system.
CNL (controlled natural language)
Refer to controlled language.
cognitive impairment
A cognitive impairment is decrease in the ability to think and to remember. A cognitive impairment is different from a learning disability, because a cognitive impairment can occur to a person who previously had no disability. For example, an accident or an illness can cause cognitive impairment. Some cognitive impairments are temporary. For example, a person who has a headache possibly cannot think clearly.
comb binding
Comb binding is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are held together with a circular plastic comb.
Communicator is the journal of the ISTC. Refer to
compiled HTML Help (CHM help)
Compiled HTML Help is a proprietary help system from Microsoft. Compiled HTML Help is also known as CHM help, because of the file name extension. Compiled HTML Help is based on HTML.
computer-based training (CBT)
Refer to e-learning.
computer-generated translation
Refer to machine translation.
computer translation
Refer to machine translation.
Refer to under index.
conditional text
Conditional text is text that is published only if a condition is fulfilled. Refer also to single-sourcing.
component content management system (CCMS)
A component content management system is type of content management system. Each component in a CCMS is small. For example, components are images, sentences, tables, and other parts of documents.
content management system (CMS)
A content management system is software for managing digital content such as websites. Refer also to component content management system; document management system; help authoring tool.
content strategist
A content strategist is a person who does the work of content strategy.
content strategy
Content strategy is the process and the methods that are used to create effective content. Content strategy is applicable to all the content that an organization creates. However, for many technical communicators, the content strategy is primarily applicable to documentation.
contents list
Refer to table of contents.
context-sensitive help
Context-sensitive help is online documentation that has context-sensitivity.
Context-sensitivity is the ability of online documentation to respond dependent on a user's interaction with the software. Usually, a user presses the F1 key or a help button to view help about the active dialog box. Refer also to context-sensitive help.
controlled language
A controlled language is a language that has limits on how grammar and words are used. The purpose is to make text as clear as possible. Refer also to ASD Simplified Technical English; controlled vocabulary.
controlled natural language (CNL)
Refer to controlled language.
controlled vocabulary
A controlled vocabulary is set of terms that a technical writer is permitted to use. The purpose of a controlled vocabulary is to make text as clear as possible. Refer also to ASD Simplified Technical English; controlled language.
Copyright is the legal right to publish a document. An author automatically has the copyright of a document, but the author can assign copyright. Refer to the Patent Office's Copyright section (
A copywriter is a professional writer who does copywriting.
Copywriting is the art of creating content (or 'copy'). Usually, the term refers to writing in the literary sense, instead of the engineered language that technical writers create. For example, copywriters create text for journals, magazines, brochures, and other types of marketing communications.
crop (verb)
To crop is to remove part of a graphic.
In printing, a crop mark is a mark near the corner of a page that shows where the page will be cut. Usually, each page has 4 crop marks.
cross-platform help
Cross-platform help is online documentation that can be used on all software operating systems and all web browsers.
A cross-reference is a direction from one part of a document either to a different part of the document, or to a different document. In a printed document, a cross-reference usually contains a page number. In an online document, a cross-reference is usually a hyperlink.
Refer to Cascading Style Sheet.

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Refer to Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY).
Darwin Information Typing-Architecture
Refer to DITA.
definition list
Refer to glossary.
demonstrative adjective
In English, a demonstrative adjective is one of the words this, that, these, or those, and which is used as an adjective before a noun. The same words also can be demonstrative pronouns. Examples of sentences that contain demonstrative adjectives are as follows:
  • This documentation is good.
  • Those computers are defective.
demonstrative pronoun
In English, a demonstrative pronoun is one of the words this, that, these, or those, and which is used as an pronoun. The same words also can be demonstrative adjectives. Examples of sentences that contain demonstrative pronouns are as follows:
  • This is good.
  • That is too small.
desktop publishing
Desktop publishing is the work of organizing text and graphics using software to create a document. Frequently, desktop publishing includes writing the text and creating the graphics.
Digital Accessible Information SYstem (DAISY)
DAISY is a technical standard that is used to create accessible content. Refer to the DAISY Consortium (
digital communication
Refer to online documentation.
digital printing
Digital printing is a printing technology that does not use plate or film in the printing process, unlike litho printing. To compare these methods, see 'Digital printing for software manuals'.
DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture)
DITA is an XML schema that is used for structured writing. DITA uses the concepts of 'typed topics', which is similar to 'information types' in Information Mapping. Refer to
DocBook is an XML schema that is used for structured writing. Refer to
document management
Document management is the management of electronic documents from their creation to their final disposal (destruction or archiving) in an organization. Refer also to document management system.
document management system
A document management system is software for document management. Refer also to content management system.
Documentation is information that helps people to solve problems, to make decisions, and to do tasks efficiently. Refer also to online documentation; printed documentation; reference manual; user guide.
documentation plan
A documentation plan is a document that specifies the important parts of a documentation project. This term is equivalent to the term 'project plan'.
domain expert
Refer to subject-matter expert.
Doxygen is software that generates documentation from source code. Refer to

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e-help (ehelp)
Refer to online documentation.
E-learning is self-study training material that is supplied electronically. Usually, e-learning is supplied on the Internet. In the past, e-learning was known as computer-based training (CBT).
EasyEnglish is a type of international English from Wycliffe Associates (UK) ( Refer also to Global English; Globish; Special English; Specialized English.
Easy Read
Easy Read is English that is written specially for people who have learning difficulties. Refer to 'Making written information easier to understand for people with learning disabilities: Guidance for people who commission or produce Easy Read information' (
Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS)
EPSS is an electronic system that is immediately available and that helps people to do their business tasks. Unlike online documentation for only one software product, an EPSS usually supports all of an organization.
electronic publications
Refer to online documentation.
embedded help
Embedded help is documentation that is part of the software. Embedded help appears directly on a window, a screen, or a tab. Readers do not click a button or put the pointer on a field to see the help text. Embedded help cannot be opened independently from the software. Refer also to context-sensitive help.
embedded index
An embedded index is an index that is created as part of an electronic document. A technical writer marks index entries in the text, and the software automatically creates locators. Refer also to 'Embedded indexing service for Word'.
end matter
End matter is information that comes after the primary text in a printed book. In the context of software documentation, end matter usually includes appendices, the index and glossary. Refer also to front matter.
Extensible Markup Language
Refer to XML.

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A figure is a graphic that has a caption. Usually, the caption has a number.
FlashHelp is a Flash-based online documentation format from Adobe. Refer also to WebHelp.
A font is an instance of a typeface. For example, 'Times 12pt Bold' is a font.
A footer is information that is repeated at the end of each page in printed documentation or on each topic in online documentation. For example, the footers on the TechScribe website all contain a copyright statement. Refer also to header.
front matter
In a printed document, front matter is information that comes before the primary text. Usually, in software documentation, the front matter contains legal information, copyright information, and publication date. Usually, a table of contents comes after this information. Refer also to end matter.

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A ghost-writer is a professional writer who writes texts that are attributed to a different person. Many copywriters are ghost-writers. Usually, a technical writer is not a ghost-writer, because documentation from one technical writer is not attributed to a different technical writer.
Global English
Global English is type of international English. Refer also to EasyEnglish; Globish; Special English; Specialized English.
Globalization is the process of making a product available globally. Globalization includes business processes and technical processes. Typically, first a product is internationalized, and then the product is localized for different national markets. Refer also to internationalization; localization.
Globish has different meanings: Refer also to EasyEnglish; Global English; Special English; Specialized English.
A glossary is an alphabetic list of terms. Each term is explained. Essentially, a glossary is a small dictionary that helps readers to understand the meaning of the terms in a document.
A graphic is an item of art, for example, a screen shot, a diagram, a flow chart, or a photograph. Refer also to raster graphic; vector graphic.

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hard copy
Hard copy is an alternative term for printed documentation.
Refer to help authoring tool.
A header is information that is repeated at the top of each page in printed documentation or on each topic in online documentation. For example, headers in printed documentation show the chapter title and page number. Refer also to footer.
Help (Help file, Help screen)
Refer to context-sensitive help.
help authoring tool (HAT)
A HAT is software that is used to create online documentation. Refer to HAT Matrix (
hot spot
On a screen, a hot spot is an area on a graphic that responds to the pointer.
house style
Refer to style guide.
In online documentation, a hyperlink is a link from one part of a document to a different part of a document or to a different document. Usually, the link is coloured text, or a small graphic. A user clicks the link to view the new location.
Refer to online documentation.
hypertext media
Refer to online documentation.

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An icon is a graphic on a screen that represents a function of the software.
An idiom is a group of words that has a different meaning from the usual meaning of the separate words. For example, 'out of the blue' is an idiom that means 'unexpectedly'.
Refer to graphic.
index (compared with concordance)
An index is an ordered list (usually alphabetic) of terms. Index entries contain cross-references to pages or to topics. For an example, see the index to this website.
An index and a concordance are both ordered lists, but functionally, they are different. A concordance contains only terms that are in a document. Usually, these terms are product names, technical terms, and acronyms. An index captures the meaning of the topics. Possibly, some index entries do not appear in the primary text of a document. For example, an index entry for 'data output' directs readers to topics about reports and about saving data, but the term 'data output' does not appear in either of the topics.
Refer also to table of contents.
info mapping
Refer to Information Mapping.
information architecture
Information architecture is the structure of information. Refer also to information design.
information design
For practical purposes, information design is an alternative term for technical writing. Refer also to instructional design.
Information Mapping
Information Mapping is a method for analysing, organizing, and showing information. Information Mapping is a type of structured writing.
instant translation
Refer to machine translation.
instruction manual
Refer to reference manual; user guide.
instructional design
Instructional design is the design of instructional materials such as training courses, e-learning systems, and user guides. Refer also to information design.
Refer to procedure.
interactive electronic technical manual (IETM)
An interactive electronic technical manual is documentation that is supplied electronically and that lets a reader interact with the content. For example, a reader can rotate a 3D vector graphic. Typically, an IETM uses a database to store information.
international English
International English is English that is optimized for an international audience. Refer also to EasyEnglish; Global English; Globish; Special English; TechScribe's international English website.
international reader
An international reader is a person who reads English as second language.
international technical English
Refer to ASD Simplified Technical English.
Internationalization is the process of making a product culturally neutral. In documentation, things such as a idioms and cultural references are not used. Refer also to globalization; localization.
internationalized English
Internationalized English is an alternative term for international English.
I18n is jargon for internationalization. The word internationalization has 20 letters. Between the first letter (i) and the last letter (n) are 18 other letters.
ISO/IEC 18019:2004
'Software and system engineering—Guidelines for the design and presentation of user documentation for application software'. This old international standard was replaced by ISO/IEC 26514:2008.
ISO/IEC 26514:2008
'Software and system engineering—Requirements for designers and developers of user documentation'. This international standard replaces ISO/IEC 18019:2004.
Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators ( The ISTC is a professional organization for technical communicators. Refer also to STC.

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Jargon is technical language that is used in a profession, or by a group of people. Jargon is suitable in some documentation. For example, in a reference manual for SQL programmers, terms such as 'table', 'entity', and '3rd Normal Form' are suitable. However, such terms are not good for the average user of business software.
Javadoc is software from Oracle that uses comments in the source code to create API documentation in HTML format (
JavaHelp is an open source system from Oracle for creating online documentation (
just-in-time printing
Refer to print on demand.

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keyword (or key word)
A keyword is a word or a phrase that is related to a topic in online documentation. Keywords are specified by the technical writer. Users can search for keywords, and if that keyword exists, one or more topic titles are shown to the user. A keyword is the online equivalent of an index entry.
knowledge acquisition
Knowledge acquisition is the strategies, the tools, and the methods for finding information, specially information that subject-matter experts know. Knowledge acquisition is one of the most important parts of technical writing.
knowledge elicitation
Refer to knowledge acquisition.
knowledge management (KM)
Knowledge management is a superset of technical communication. Knowledge management is "doing what is needed to get the most out of the collective knowledge resources in a company". Refer to the BCS article 'Working smarter not harder' (

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L10n is jargon for localization. The word localization has 12 letters. Between the first letter (l) and the last letter (n) are 10 other letters.
LaTeX is a typesetting system that is used to create documents that have excellent typography.
Lay-flat binding
Lay-flat binding is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are held together with flexible adhesive tape.
list of contents
Refer to table of contents.
litho printing
Litho printing is the 'traditional' method of printing. For low print volumes, digital printing is a better option. For a comparison, see 'Digital printing for software manuals'.
Localization is the process of changing a document from one language into a different language. Translation of text is a large part of localization. Analogies, symbols, icons, and colours must be evaluated and possibly changed, because their meanings can change across cultures. Refer also to globalization; internationalization.
In a printed index, a locator is a page number that comes after a heading or a subheading, and which tells a reader where to find information about the heading or the subheading. In an online index, no page number exists. Instead, the heading or the subheading is a hyperlink.

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machine translation (MT)
Machine translation is the automatic translation of text using only software without the help of a translator. Refer also to post-editing; pre-editing; translation memory.
Refer to reference manual.
Refer to marketing communications.
marketing communications (marcomms)
Marketing communications is an organization's methods of communication with its customers and prospects. Although some technical writers create documents for marketing communications, copywriting and technical writing are different, as we show in 'Copywriting and technical writing compared'.
Metadata is data about data. For example, metadata about a book includes the cost, the name of the author, and the ISBN.
minimalism, minimalist
Minimalism is an action-based and task-oriented strategy for creating documentation. Minimalism gives emphasis to what readers must do. A minimalist document contains only important information. The basic principle is task-orientation. Brevity is important, but only because brevity can help task-oriented activity.
Carroll introduced the term 'minimalism' in the early 1980s. Carroll specifies the basic principles as:
  1. Choose an action-oriented approach.
  2. Anchor the tool in the task domain.
  3. Support error recognition and recovery.
  4. Support reading to do, study and locate.
Moiré is an interference pattern that appears in screen shots.
Moiré on a scrollbar
Refer also to 'How to remove moiré from screen shots'.
Refer to machine translation.
Multimedia is the collective term for text, graphics, animation, and interactive content.

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non-native reader
Refer to international reader.
numbered list
A numbered list is an ordered list that uses numbers to show the sequence of items in the list. Refer also to the terms in this numbered list:
  1. bulleted list
  2. run-in list
  3. unordered list.

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online documentation
Online documentation is documentation that is designed to be read from a screen. Usually, online documentation contains context-sensitive help. Online documentation is separate from the software, unlike embedded help. Refer also to printed documentation.
online help
Refer to online documentation.
on-screen documentation
Refer to online documentation.
ordered list
An ordered list is a list in which the sequence of items is important. An ordered list does not necessarily contain sequence characters. For example, an index is an ordered list, but an index is not a numbered list. Refer also to bulleted list; run-in list; unordered list.
Oxford comma
Refer to serial comma.

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part of speech
In traditional grammar, a part of speech is a category for words that have a particular function. Examples of parts of speech in English are noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and preposition.
passive voice
The passive voice is a structure of English in which a form of the verb (to) be comes before a past participle. Examples:
  • The device will be tested (by the technician).
  • The covers were broken quickly.
  • The sample has been tested.
Refer also to active voice.
past participle
A past participle is the form of a verb that is used after the verb (to) have. Examples:
  • The engineer has sampled the data.
  • The technicians have found a solution to the problem.
  • The accident occured because the engineer had not tested the device correctly.
Note. The past participle is also used in the passive voice. To avoid tautology, the definition of past participle does not include the passive voice.
PDF (Portable Document Format)
PDF is a file format that Adobe developed. PDF is an open standard named ISO 32000. Refer to 'Adobe Portable Document Format' (
perfect binding
Perfect binding is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are glued at one edge.
A persona is a model of a typical user. A persona has characteristcs that help a technical communicator to design a document for the people who will read that document. Refer to 'Develop Personas' (
phrasal verb
A phrasal verb is a type of verb that has two words. Usually, the meaning of the verb is different from the usual meaning of the separate words. Usually, the parts of the verb can be separated by a noun. For example, 'carry out' is a phrasal verb. "He carried his job out well" means "he did his job well".
plain English
Plain English is English that is written as clearly as possible. Plain English is primarily for people who use English as a first language. Refer also to international English.
pop-up help
Refer to pop-up window.
pop-up window
In context-sensitive help, a pop-up window is a small secondary window that appears when a user clicks a link.
Portable Document Format
Refer to PDF.
Post-editing is the process of improving a machine translation. A translator corrects only what is necessary. For example, large grammar errors are corrected, but an unusual word order is not changed. Refer also to pre-editing.
Pre-editing is the correction and the optimization of text that will be translated. Usually, the term pre-editing refers to machine translation. Refer also to post-editing.
preferred term
A preferred term is a term that is used in preference to an equivalent term. For example, TechScribe uses 'user guide' instead of 'user manual'. Therefore, the preferred term is 'user guide'. Refer also to controlled vocabulary.
preliminary matter (prelims)
Preliminary matter is an alternative term for front matter.
printed documentation (printable documentation)
Printed documentation is documentation that is supplied on paper or that is supplied electronically and which is designed to be printed. Refer also to online documentation.
print on demand (printing on demand)
Print on demand is a method for printing a small number of documents only when the documents are necessary. Usually, printing on demand uses digital printing.
A procedure is a numbered list of steps that tells a person how to do a task. Refer also to process.
A process is a sequence of things that occur in a system. Possibly, none, one, or many users are involved. In a description of a process, the focus is on how the system operates, not on what people do. Refer also to procedure.

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QuikScan is a format that makes printed documents and online documents more usable. QuikScan uses numbered list items for summaries in the document. The numbers are related to numbers in the primary part of the text. Refer to

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raster graphic
A raster graphic is a type of graphic in which the image is made from dots (pixels). Refer also to vector graphic.
reference manual
A reference manual is a document that explains the parts of a product. Usually, for a software reference manual, each dialog box, screen, field, tab, and button is explained. A reference manual answers the question, "What is x?" Refer also to user guide.
Refer to localization.
restricted language
Refer to controlled language.
restricted natural language
Refer to controlled language.
restricted vocabulary
Refer to controlled vocabulary.
rule-based writing
Refer to structured writing.
run-in list
A run-in list is a list in which the list items are part of a sentence. Refer also to the terms in this run-in list: bulleted list; numbered list; ordered list; unordered list.
running foot
Refer to footer.
running head
Refer to header.

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saddle stitch
Saddle stitch is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are stapled together.
sans serif (compared with serif)
A serif is a small projection on a character. Many traditional typefaces have serifs. A sans serif typeface is a typeface that does not have projections.
Serifs and no serifs (sans serif)
For more information, see 'Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces?' (
screen capture
Refer to screen shot.
screen shot
A screen shot is a copy of the content of a screen. Frequently, a screen shot is cropped to show only the important parts of the screen. Refer also to graphic.
Scrum is a type of agile software development.
Section 508
Section 508 is a US law that came into effect in June 2001. Section 508 requires that all IT products (including their documentation) that are sold to US government organizations are accessible to people with disabilities.
sentence memory
Refer to authoring memory.
serial comma (Oxford comma)
A serial comma is a comma that comes before a conjunction in a list of items. In each example that follows, the last comma is a serial comma.
  • Examples of parts of speech in English are noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and preposition.
  • For these documents, use only red, white, or blue covers.
Refer to sans serif (compared with serif).
simplified English
Simplified English can mean one of many types of controlled language, such as ASD Simplified Technical English or Wycliffe Associates' EasyEnglish (
single-source publishing
Refer to single-sourcing.
Single-sourcing is a method of creating documentation. Single-sourcing can be used when more than one item of documentation is necessary for a product. The components of all the documents are written in one source file. The writers of the source file specify which components are required for each item of documentation. Refer also to conditional text.
social media
Social media is websites and software that let people create and share content.
software documentation
Refer to documentation.
Special English
Special English is a type of international English from Voice of America ( Refer also to EasyEnglish; Global English; Globish.
Specialized English
Specialized English ( is a type of international English from Spotlight Radio. Specialized English is almost the same as Special English. Refer also to EasyEnglish; Global English; Globish; Special English.
split infinitive
A split infinitive is a phrase in which one or more words comes between the word to and the base form of a verb. In the examples that follow, the bold words split the infinitive to go.
  • I want to go to London.
  • I want to quickly go to London.
  • I want to quickly, cheaply, and without more unnecessary delay go to London.
standard operating procedure (SOP)
Refer to procedure.
standard technical English
Refer to ASD Simplified Technical English.
standardized English
Refer to ASD Simplified Technical English; controlled language.
Society for Technical Communication ( STC is a professional organization for technical communicators. Refer also to ISTC.
STOP (sequential thematic organization of publications) is a method of structured writing that was developed by the Hughes Aircraft Company in the 1960s. Refer to Sequential Thematic Organization of Publications (STOP): How to Achieve Coherence in Proposals and Reports (
structured authoring
Refer to structured writing.
structured writing (structured authoring)
Structured writing is a method of writing that applies engineering principles to documentation. Information is 'typed' (for example, 'fact', 'concept', 'data value', 'procedure'). Rules specify the structure of a document. Refer also to controlled language; Information Mapping; XML.
style guide
A style guide is a set of rules and guidelines that tell authors how to write documents. A style guide usually contains information about the sentence style, layout, typefaces, captions, headers, and other parts of a document. Refer also to style sheet; template.
style sheet
A style sheet is a set of rules that specify how a computer system displays the content of an electronic document. Refer also to Cascading Style Sheet; style guide; template.
subject-matter expert (SME)
A subject-matter expert is a person who has detailed knowledge about a subject. Possibly, the knowledge is tacit knowledge.
syntactic cue
A syntactic cue is a part of language that helps a reader to identify parts of speech and to analyse the structure of a sentence.

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table of contents
A table of contents is a list of chapters or sections that are in a document.
  • In printed documentation, a table of contents is a list of chapters and subheadings with their related page numbers. The sequence of the list is the same as the sequence of the headings in the document. The table of contents is usually at the front of the document.
  • In online documentation, a table of contents is a list of topics with hyperlinks to the topics. Usually, the topics are in groups of related information, and there is a hierarchy of expandable and collapsible headings. Usually, the table of contents appears as a navigation pane on the left side of the help window.
Refer also to index.
tacit knowledge
Tacit knowledge is knowledge and experience that a person (usually, a subject-matter expert) has, but which has not been captured, and therefore, is not explicit. Refer also to knowledge acquisition.
task analysis
Task analysis is the process of finding and specifying the tasks that people do when they interact with a (software) system. Refer also to audience analysis; knowledge acquisition.
task-based documentation
Task-based documentation is documentation that is about the tasks that users must do in the context of their work, unlike documentation that explains the features of software. Frequently, task-based documentation is supplied as a user guide. Refer also to reference manual.
Technical Communication UK (TCUK) ( is an annual conference for technical communicators.
technical author
Technical author is an alternative term for technical writer.
technical authoring
Technical authoring is an alternative term for technical writing.
technical communication
Technical communication is the communication of a technical message. Sometimes, the term is used as an alternative for technical writing, but technical communication includes all forms of technical instruction, such as technical illustration, multimedia design, and e-learning.
technical communicator
A technical communicator is a person who does technical communication.
technical documentation
Refer to documentation.
technical writer
A technical writer is a person who does technical writing.
technical writing
Technical writing is the communication of a technical message, primarily using text-based information. Technical writing is also known as technical authoring. Technical writing is part of technical communication.
A template is a document that is used as a model to create other documents. Refer also to style guide; style sheet.
A term is one or more words that have a specified meaning. Refer also to preferred term.
termbase (terminology database)
A termbase is a database that contains terms and related information.
terminology list
Refer to glossary.
terminology management
Terminology management is the process of collecting, recording, and maintaining the terms that are used in a particular subject.
Refer to
A topic is a small part of a document that is about one subject. In online documentation, a topic usually has a title and information about a subject. In printed documentation, a topic usually is equivalent to a subheading and its content.
training needs analysis (TNA)
Training needs analysis is an analysis of the needs of people who will be trained. Refer also to audience analysis.
translation automation
Refer to machine translation.
translation memory
A translation memory is a database that stores translations of different languages. Refer also to translation memory system.
translation memory system
A translation memory system is software that helps human translators. Software shows previous translations to a translator. The translator can use the translation or change the translation. The translations are in the translation memory.
A tutorial is "instructional mode documentation in which the user exercises software functions using sample data that is supplied with the software or documentation." (ISO/IEC 26514:2008).
A typeface is the name of the design for a set of fonts, for example, 'Times New Roman'. The terms font and typeface are not synonyms. Refer to 'Microsoft typography' ( and 'Choosing & using type' (

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Refer to user assistance.
Refer to user interface.
unordered list
An unordered list is a list in which the sequence of items is not important. Sometimes, an unordered list is a bulleted list. Refer also to numbered list; ordered list; run-in list.
Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use (according to Jakob Nielsen, Usability is specified by five quality components: learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction. Refer also to accessibility.
user analysis
User analysis is an alternative term for audience analysis.
user assistance (UA)
User assistance is the techniques and technologies to make working with software a better experience. These technologies include online Help, wizards, websites, printed documentation, and improvements to the user interface (based on text supplied by WritersUA/WinWriters,
user guide
A user guide is document that explains how to use software to do procedures. A user guide answers the question, "how do I…?" Refer also to reference manual; task-based documentation.
user interface (UI)
A user interface is the parts of a system that a person sees and uses to interact with the system. A user interface includes hardware such as a keyboard and a mouse. Frequently, the term user interface means the content that appears on a screen.
user instructions
Refer to procedure.
user story
A user story is a requirement that is written in the business language of a user.

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vector graphic
A vector graphic is a type of graphic in which the image is made from lines, curves, and other geometric shapes that describe the image. Refer also to raster graphic.
vocabulary list
Refer to glossary.
vocabulary management
Refer to terminology management.

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WebHelp is cross-platform online documentation system from Adobe. It has similar functionality to compiled HTML Help. Refer also to FlashHelp.
white paper
A white paper is detailed or authoritative report. For excellent information about white papers, see
white space
White space is an empty area on a page or on a screen. White space does not always have a white colour. The defining feature of white space is that white space does not contain text or graphics.
A wiki is a type of website. Users can create and edit web pages by using a web browser.
WinHelp is an early type of online documentation from Microsoft.
wire binding
Wire binding is a type of binding for printed documents. The pages are held together with a coil of wire.
word list
Refer to glossary.
worldwide English
Refer to international English.

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XML (Extensible Markup Language)
XML is a markup language that is used for structured writing. Refer to
XML schema
An XML schema specifies the structure of an XML document. Refer to and Popular XML schemas are DITA and DocBook.
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