In my last post, I explained why FAQs are not the best means of helping users and site visitors find information. I suggested that you extract the key words from FAQs and transform them into topics. I introduced three common topic types: concept, task, and reference.

In this post, I will give tips and examples for writing each of the three topic types. My examples apply to a general business context and are somewhat simplified. If you are a technical writer, your topics will often be more complex.

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Have you ever needed online help and ended up losing your context? Recently, while trying to complete an online form, I needed help with a specific field. The field had a question mark icon next to it. I clicked the icon, and a separate window opened. The window displayed a long, scrolling list of anchor links leading to a long, scrolling group of FAQs.

I scanned the list and clicked through to what appeared to be a promising match near the bottom. I read the answer, but it was unrelated to what I needed to know. After tedious, endless scrolling through FAQs, I couldn’t find anything related to my question. I finally opened a new tab and used a Google web query outside of the site.

Sound familiar?

Many websites use Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as the primary means of providing help for customers and other visitors. While FAQs may sometimes work in certain contexts, they often make finding answers more difficult.

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Note: This review appears in the Spring 2011 edition of Communicator, the quarterly journal of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC). This version is modified slightly to follow style conventions used on this site. It is also slightly enhanced with additional information. I encourage you to learn more about the ISTC.

Since its introduction in early 2006, MadCap Flare™ has maintained a steady course of evolution. Flare users have fostered this evolution through proactive feedback.

MadCap obviously listens. Each new version of Flare has shown that the company understands its users, and Flare 7 is no exception. Packed with impressive new features and enhancements, Flare 7 provides full support for information development teams and their workflows.

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