Modern content: structured and intelligent

Structured content is information that is organized in a predictable way. Structured authoring refers to creating content in an environment where the required structure is enforced by the authoring software. Most traditional authoring tools, such as word processors and page layout tools, provide a way to define content organization (for example, through templates) but do not enforce the organization (you can choose not to follow the templates). In a structured authoring workflow, following the template is not optional.1 Structured authoring is often paired with modular writing; authors develop content in chunks that are assembled to create manuals, web content, help systems, data sheets, and other information products.

Intelligent content is “content that is structurally rich and semantically categorized, and is therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable,” according to Ann Rockley and Charles Cooper, authors of Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy.

Not every content development effort requires intelligent content, and establishing a structured authoring environment demands a significant investment of time and resources. But to meet the more complex challenges of technical content, a strategy built on structured, intelligent content will allow you to:

  • Separate content from presentation so that you can easily deliver information in a variety of output formats
  • Tailor content to specific requirements (such as user level, access permissions, installation profile, and more)
  • Ensure that users’ content searches are successful

As delivery requirements grow increasingly complex with more and more devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, ereaders), multiple languages, and multiple audiences, intelligent content provides a solid foundation for your content strategy.


1 For more details, refer to “Structured authoring and XML” (



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