Laying out large user manuals

Subject: Laying out large user manuals
From: Joe Weinmunson <litlfrog -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 15:15:21 -0500

I wrote and maintain a compiled HTML help file (.chm) for our company's
software. It's got around 200 topics all told. Every once in a while we
have a user who would really like a printed manual, and the boss is fine
with sending them one. I'd like to do something more attractive than just
printing out the help file for them. Each topic is a separate HTML file.
One of the programmers here banged out a quick script that can pull in all
the files and combine them into a Rich Text File, so those are my choices
for starting with raw material.

I'm considering using something like InDesign (I have an old version) to
create text frames and allow me to include some extra graphics in a printed
manual. However, the help files do change every so often and I'd want to
set it up in such a way that updates could be handled quickly. Does anyone
have advice on how to proceed with such a project, or even whether it's
worth it? Thanks.

Joe Weinmunson

“What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you
can’t help it.”
--Oscar Wilde
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