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Single Sourcing

Single source is a combination of writing, planning, and tools that lets you create a single parent document, then output the content of the parent document in any number of other formats, including (but not limited to) different printings, HTML, Word, HTML Help, PDF, and other formats.

Example: You have a software tool that needs printed manuals and online help. The same information needs to be presented as both PDF files and WinHelp or Compressed HTML Help. You also need the help for the administration functions of the tool hidden from average users. With a single source of information, you write and maintain the content ONCE, and all outputs of that information are updated automatically.

Single sourcing can be used for both large and small documentation projects.


  • repetition across documents ensures consistency;
  • reduction in production costs;
  • reduction in maintenance costs;
  • information specificity - e.g. only Account Manager users can see the help for Account Manager users.