Publication guidelines – sample mission, goals and outline

April 30, 2010

Sample mission and goals

Below are the mission and goals, as well as a sample outline, for an online sales training and reference project I developed for NuStep, Inc. in 2007-2008. These were included in the publication guidelines I wrote to help guide and develop the project.

Many of the goals are quoted or adapted from Jean Hollis Weber’s excellent Technical Editors’ Eyrie, which offers excellent resources. One of the key resources I found most helpful is an overview on planning an online help project.

Feel free to borrow from this outline. My goal is to help writers and editors, as I’ve been helped by many others.

If you do use the information, please also link to or refer to my website, timmantyla.wordpress.com.


“Make the online guide easy to read and use.”


  • To make the online guide consistent and easy to navigate, read and understand
  • To make the job of its editors, writers and other contributors easier by providing a reference source
  • To inform new writers and editors of existing style and presentation decisions and solutions
  • To improve consistency within and among documents, especially when more than one writer is involved or when a document will be translated
  • To remove the need to reinvent the wheel for every new project, and document who contributed what to help future contributors
  • Establish standard style guidelines to make the user/reader’s experience easy and clear
  • Document and explain the use of standard styles and formatting in the template
  • To remind the writer of style decisions for each project, when one writer works on several projects that have different style requirements
  • To serve as part of the specifications for the deliverables, in the event this project is outsourced
  • To define which style issues are negotiable and which are not
  • To help with new users of [your software] and those unfamiliar with help authoring tools or web design applications in general
  • To help plan, organize and schedule the work involved in producing and updating the guide
  • To introduce usability testing to those unfamiliar it

Sample Outline for Publication Guidelines

1) How to produce an online training & reference guide

a) Mission & goals

b)    Publication guidelines outline

2) Planning guide

a) To do list

b) Tracking documents

3) Contributors’ guidelines

a) Social rules for creating a style guide

b) Editorial conventions

c) English usage

d) Ways to present information – best practices

e)    Research – talk first to potential readers and technical (subject matter) experts

4) Editorial style and conventions

5) Formatting standards

6) Build and maintain the guide

a) Software – Doc-To-Help

b) Get started with the software

c) Help and support resources

d) About the template

i) Template purpose

ii) Find the template

iii) Apply template

e) Back up the template

f) Contribute to the guide

i) Writing & editing process

ii) Track progress

g) Build the guide

i) General instructions

h) Provide access to the guide

i) Maintain the guide

i) Update the guide

ii) Maintain the publication guidelines

j) Back up the guide

7) Reference sources

a) Reference sources

i) Style guides

ii) Dictionaries

(a) English

(b) Medical/technical

(c) Other languages

iii) Thesauri

iv) Encyclopedias

v) Quotations

b) Online non-reference resources

i) Email lists, discussion groups

ii) Technical websites and other resources

(a) Freeware & shareware software download sites

8 ) Website usability testing

9) Whodunit – publication principals and contributors

10) Technical notes and procedures

a) Procedures and emailed help from software support

11) Glossary


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