Content development no image

Published on October 25th, 2006 | by Rahel Bailie


How understanding genre helps us understand structured content

Understanding the elements of a genre are critical to being able to understand and create structured content. Writing has always an art where the creativity is to say what you need to say within the structure of the genre. Poets, playwrights, musicians, and journalists are keenly aware of their genres, with the help of a strong editor and enforced by the demands of the marketplace. However, technical writers often have neither the luxury or the editor or the feedback of the marketplace to rely on for constructive feedback. And it’s a dead give-away that a writer has a lack of genre analysis when one expects delivery of a well-formed manual but instead is handed a stream-of-consciousness blob of narrative.

Structured writing, then, is a way to put the art back into technical writing. To undisciplined writers, this concept may seem to impose a constraint while seasoned writers will find the statement so incredibly obvious that they might wonder if they’ve missed the point. Similar to the way that musician compose within melody and lyrics to fit a genre, so writers of structured content similarly fit their content within their genres.

Next time – Gentle genre guidance: DITA, DocBook, and that whole XML thing

Share this post:
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

  • StumbleUpon
  • email
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • TwitThis

About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Back to Top ↑