Have you ever caught yourself sitting in the office chair, staring at the ceiling, wondering how you can, to put it bluntly, ‘wrestle down’ your documentation? There is no doubt, the process of documentation creation is never-ending. Therefore, it haunts you every time a new project or task is undertaken. How many times have you ignored your colleagues talking to you, just because you were so immersed in your own thoughts, seeking a new solution to an old problem. Who (if anyone) knows what can be done about that?

In this blog post, you will find the key to this riddle. On the surface, it looks that this issue is an old, threadbare theme. Everyone knows that creating and maintaining documentation is a rather time-consuming task. There exists a wide range of powerful document management software and document creation tools on the market designed to ease our lives. This time, however, we are going to consider the problem from another angle.

Let’s figure out the benefits of templates for the process of documentation creation. This article is valuable not only for technical writers, who are always struggling with documentation, but also for employees who want to give their documents the same look and feel and create documents in a timely manner. Thus, those who use Confluence and Jira on a daily basis will also see the benefit in this discussion.

Top Benefits of Templates

Creating new documents from scratch every time your company embarks on a new project can waste valuable time and money. Instead, we suggest focusing on internal templates that can be utilized for a variety of projects, including enterprise communications, as well as customer projects.

The main advantage is that templates significantly simplify the generation of good company documentation, which allows you to invest valuable time in the content and review of these documents. Templates are the skeletons which constitute the basis of your documentation. Once you start filling them with useful content, these skeletons will turn into flesh and blood.

Benefits of Templates

No matter what industry you are in, document templates can bring you a number of benefits. Let’s go through the most notable ones:

1.Simplify document creation

Templates can not only ease your workload but also make you feel less stressed and at the same increase your efficiency. Besides, they help inexperienced staff produce professional-looking documents that easily follow the company house style.

2. Save time and money

Utilizing readymade templates is less time-consuming than creating documents from the ground up. Eventually, it results in cost saving for a company. The cost of creating reusable preset forms will be considerably less expensive than having to reinvent documents every time they are needed.

3. Consistency and clarity

One of the core benefits of templates is visible to the naked eye.

Templates ensure that all documents have a standard layout, look and feel. Click To Tweet

Documents should have a standard layout, and feel. They define the formatting to be used in your company documentation. Document templates  guarantee that standard text (the page number, date/time, author, file name and location), important graphics (company logo) and company information (contact details) will appear on every page in the correct position and with no mistakes.

4. Customer satisfaction

Indeed, document templates are paramount to your customer success. They present information in a professional way, allowing your customers to find the necessary information easily, because they have already become accustomed to the unified appearance of your company documentation.

For example, if a customer becomes accustomed to receiving specifically-formatted documents, they will be more likely to recognize a document from a deceiver pretending to work at your company.

At the same time, there are a few drawbacks to using templates. Applying the same templates all the time makes it more difficult to stand out from the crowd and can create a bad impression on your target audience by failing to produce a so-called ‘wow’ effect. Very rigid standards may prevent workers from completely expressing a message in an easily-understandable manner. Strict standardization may also impair creativity and imagination.

So, it is worth refreshing company templates in order that they always look and sound special.

Templates in Confluence or Jira

Templating is a sensible way of reusing your content. Atlassian

Those who are working with the Atlassian products, namely Confluence and Jira probably have already experienced the benefits of templates. Creating content in Confluence (a team collaboration software aimed at storing company’s knowledge) is an effortless task. Whether it’s meeting notes, troubleshooting articles, a how-to guide or maybe an announcement about an upcoming event – there are standard templates. Thus, you don’t need to do the work from scratch. Some templates are provided via blueprints or add-ons; others can be defined by Confluence users. Confluence can provide you with some predefined blueprints, or you can also download additional blueprints from the Atlassian Marketplace. Moreover, you can customise the blueprint templates to suit your individual needs.

Businesses who use Jira (a bug-tracking and project management tool) on a daily basis should definitely feel a need for issue and project templates. In the Jira Server, there is no default way to create project templates. Essentially, you can create a custom plugin or script that allows you and your team to develop templates for your projects with tasks and subtasks. Another alternative is looking on the Atlassian Marketplace for available add-ons. For example, Script Runner is a free add-on which includes a built-in script to Copy Projects. Other paid add-ons include Project Creator and Gaia for JIRA – Project Templates.

At each major release of the software, a technical writer has to perform a number of tasks. Many of the tasks are repeated at every release. So the companies that use Jira to keep track of their documentation tasks must have realized the notable benefit of cloning an issue from the same project. Once the clone has been saved, you can move it to another project. When you clone the issue, Jira creates a new issue with the same summary, description, assignee, components and several other fields. Operations on the original issue, however, have no effect on the clone issue and vice versa.

An issue template will ensure that you haven’t forgotten any of the events that need to happen at each release. It will also give new team members a concise overview of what’s involved in a documentation release. Moreover, the template will provide the product managers and development team with good insight into the tasks that the technical writers need to do in order to publish and maintain documentation. In order to create the issue template, there are several add-ons on the Atlassian Marketplace: Issue Templates for Jira or Easy Issue Templates.

Use document templates to ease this pain by automating your workflow.

The Magic of StepShot Templates

Using custom templates for every piece of technical documentation is a win-win situation as everyone quickly gets used to the things that are qualitative and easy to comprehend. If you always end up struggling with documentation creation and just can’t help it, try to automate this process by utilizing some awesome templates.

StepShot has realized the value of templates and now offers several standard PDF templates so that StepShot Guides customers have the opportunity to style their documents. They can choose from among 7 possible templates.

Moreover, we go beyond ordinary screen capturing and editing and empower our clients to configure PDF templates themselves. Apart from the logo, there is possibility to manage header and footer, title page, colors and font sizes. In order to be able to configure PDF templates in StepShot Guides, you need to download Notepad++ or any other text editor with syntax highlighting to edit *.css, *.xslt and *.html files. Understanding the basics of HTML and CSS is a plus, but not obligatory for simple modifications. Here is the comprehensive guide on configuring PDF templates in StepShot Guides that will navigate you through the whole process.

StepShot Guides Templates

On the flip side, StepShot can take the hassle out of configuring PDF templates and design a custom template for you that will be aligned with your business. If you don’t want to tinker with templates on your own, just drop us a line at [email protected] and we will take care of your documentation.

Read, learn and tweak!