Adobe RoboHelp: Effective Online Help Authoring Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


Adobe RoboHelp is a powerhouse tool for creating online help documentation. Are you familiar with it? If not, no worries. This blog will get you up to speed and even give you some pro tips for making the most of your Adobe RoboHelp experience. We'll dive into how to organize your content, leverage templates, create interactive elements, and much more. If you're interested in Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation, you're in the right place.

Get familiar with Adobe RoboHelp

Adobe RoboHelp is like a Swiss Army knife for anyone who needs to create online help documentation. It's a tool that allows you to create, manage, and publish content for all sorts of platforms and formats. But before you start clicking around, it's good to get a lay of the land.

First things first, let's talk about the workspace. Adobe RoboHelp has a user-friendly interface, which means it's not too hard to find what you need. The main areas you'll work with are the Project Manager pane, the Design Editor pane, and the Output pane. Each of these has its own set of tools and functions that help you create top-notch documentation. We'll get into the nitty-gritty of each area in the sections below.

When it comes to creating content, you'll be pleased to know that RoboHelp supports a wide range of file types. Whether you're working with HTML, XML, or PDF files, you can easily import them into your project. Plus, you can also create and edit your content directly in RoboHelp. This flexibility makes it easier for you to work with the files you have and the formats you need.

Lastly, let's talk about outputs. When you're ready to share your documentation, RoboHelp has you covered. It allows you to generate outputs in multiple formats, including Responsive HTML5, WebHelp, Microsoft HTML Help, and Adobe AIR Help. That way, you can deliver your content in the format that works best for your users.

So, are you ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation? Let's do this!

Organize your content in RoboHelp

When it comes to writing effective documentation, organization is not just a nice-to-have—it's a must. Thankfully, Adobe RoboHelp makes it easy to keep your content neat and tidy. Whether you're working on a large project or a small one, these tips will help you stay organized.

First, let's talk about the Project Manager pane. This is the place where you'll organize all your files and folders. Think of it like a digital file cabinet for your project. You can create as many folders as you need to keep your content orderly. Plus, you can drag and drop files and folders to reorganize them as needed. This makes it easy to keep track of your work.

Next up is the Table of Contents (TOC) pane. Here, you can create a clear and logical structure for your documentation. You can add, remove, and rearrange topics to design a TOC that guides your users through your content. Remember, a well-crafted TOC can make your documentation much more user-friendly.

Finally, don't forget about the Index and Glossary panes. An index is a great way to help your users find specific information quickly. And a glossary can help clarify any terms or concepts that might be new to your users. Both of these features are easy to create and manage in Adobe RoboHelp.

Remember, well-organized content is easier to navigate, understand, and remember. So take the time to organize your Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation. Your users will thank you!

Use templates in RoboHelp

When it comes to creating professional-looking documentation, templates are your best friend. And in Adobe RoboHelp, you're spoilt for choice with a range of templates to choose from. Let's see how you can make the most of them.

Templates in RoboHelp are pre-designed structures that give your content a consistent look and feel. They save you time, as you don't have to design each page from scratch. Plus, they ensure your documentation maintains a uniform appearance, making it easier for your users to navigate and understand.

RoboHelp offers a variety of templates for different types of content—from topics and tables of contents to indexes and glossaries. You can customize these templates to match your brand's style, adding your logo, changing colors, and adjusting fonts. The Preview feature allows you to see how your template will look before you apply it, saving you from any unwanted surprises.

One of the best things about using templates in RoboHelp is the ability to apply them to multiple topics at once. This is a real time-saver, especially when you're working with large amounts of content. Simply select the topics you want, choose your template, and RoboHelp will do the rest.

So, if you're serious about Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation, start exploring templates. They're a surefire way to produce high-quality, consistent, and user-friendly documentation. Happy templating!

Create interactive elements

Now that you're comfortable with templates, it's time to take your Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation to the next level by adding interactive elements. Interactive elements can turn your static help documentation into a dynamic, engaging user experience.

Let's start with hyperlinks. Hyperlinks are a great way to guide your users through your documentation, connecting related topics and providing easy access to additional information. In RoboHelp, creating a hyperlink is as easy as highlighting the text and clicking the 'Insert Hyperlink' button. You can link to other topics in your project, external websites, or even specific sections within a topic.

Next up: dropdown texts. Dropdown texts can help you keep your content neat and tidy by hiding additional information under a clickable title. Users who want more detail can click on the dropdown text to reveal the hidden content. This is particularly useful when you're dealing with complex topics that require a lot of explanation.

Then we have popups. Popups are perfect for providing definitions or extra details without disturbing the flow of your content. When a user hovers over a word or phrase, a small box pops up with additional information. It's a neat way to keep your pages uncluttered while still offering plenty of information.

By incorporating these interactive elements, you'll be doing more than just authoring content—you'll be creating an engaging, user-friendly experience that keeps your readers coming back for more. So why not give it a go?

Creating top-notch content in Adobe RoboHelp is only half the battle. The other half? Making sure your audience can find it. That's right, we're talking about search engine optimization (SEO) for your online help authoring and documentation. Don't let the term SEO intimidate you—it's simpler than you think!

First off, you need to think about your keywords. Keywords are the terms your users will type into the search box when they're looking for help. For each topic, identify a set of relevant keywords and make sure to include them in your content. But remember, don't overdo it—search engines can spot keyword stuffing a mile away.

Next, consider your headings. Search engines pay special attention to headings, so make sure they're descriptive and contain your keywords where possible. In Adobe RoboHelp, you can easily format your text as a heading using the Styles pane.

Another key factor in SEO is the structure of your content. Break up your topics into manageable chunks, each focusing on a specific aspect of the topic. This not only makes your content easier to read, but also helps search engines understand what your content is about.

Lastly, don't forget about the meta description. This is the short summary that appears in search engine results. Make it catchy and informative to attract users to click on your documentation.

By optimizing your content for search, you're ensuring that your hard work doesn't go unnoticed. So, ready to make your Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation even more findable?

Use multimedia in RoboHelp

Let's face it, a wall of text can be intimidating, even if it's well written. That's where multimedia comes into play. Adobe RoboHelp allows you to jazz up your online help authoring and documentation with images, videos, and audio files. And guess what? It's easier than you might think!

For starters, you can insert images directly into your topics. A relevant image can not only break up the text and make your content more appealing, but can also help illustrate a point or process. Just remember to provide alternative text (alt text) for each image to ensure accessibility and improve SEO.

But why stop at images? Adding video tutorials or demos can greatly enhance your user's learning experience. Adobe RoboHelp supports embedding videos from popular platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, or you can upload your own video files.

And let's not forget about audio. A well-placed audio clip can provide additional information or context. It's as simple as clicking the 'Insert Media' button and selecting your audio file.

By incorporating multimedia into your Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation, you're not just making your content more engaging — you're also catering to different learning styles. After all, everyone learns differently, right?

Create cross-references

Let's play pretend. Imagine you're reading a novel where the main character finds a mysterious key. Now, wouldn't it be great if you could just click on the word 'key' and be instantaneously taken back to the chapter where the key first appeared? That's the magic of cross-referencing, and luckily for us, Adobe RoboHelp makes it a breeze to set up in our online help authoring and documentation.

By creating cross-references, you allow your readers to easily navigate between related topics. It's like leaving breadcrumbs for Hansel and Gretel, but instead of leading them to a candy house, you're guiding them on a knowledge journey. All kidding aside, cross-references can be a real lifesaver when dealing with complex information.

Here's how you do it: simply highlight the text you want to use as a reference, then select 'Cross-reference' from the 'Insert' menu. This will open a dialog box where you can choose the destination topic. Click 'OK' and voila, you've created a cross-reference!

Remember, the aim is to create an interconnected web of information that's easy to navigate. So, don't go overboard with cross-referencing every other sentence. Be selective and strategic. After all, you don't want to send your readers on a wild goose chase, do you?

Generate different output types

One of the superpowers of Adobe RoboHelp when it comes to online help authoring and documentation is its ability to generate different output types. Think of it like a master chef who can whip up various dishes from the same set of ingredients.

Whether it's responsive HTML5, ePub, Kindle, or even good old-fashioned PDF, RoboHelp has got you covered. This variety allows you to cater to different user preferences and needs. Not everyone likes reading on a screen, right? Some folks still prefer the feel of a printed manual in their hands.

To generate a different output, you simply choose the desired type from the 'Output' tab. You then adjust settings like layout, navigation, and search functionality to suit your needs. Click 'Save and Generate', and in the words of a famous TV chef—Bam! Your new output is ready.

Remember, the goal here is to make your content as accessible as possible to your readers. So, don't shy away from experimenting with different output types. Who knows, you might discover that your users have a particular fondness for Kindle!

How to use conditional text

Imagine you're building a robot, but not everyone needs all the bells and whistles. Some users might only need the basic features, while others might want all the advanced functionalities. This is where conditional text in Adobe RoboHelp comes to play, letting you control what information appears for different users in your online help authoring and documentation.

Now, how exactly do you use this magic wand? First, you need to define your conditions. Go to the 'Project Settings' and under the 'Conditions' tab, add new condition expressions. You could create conditions like 'Basic' and 'Advanced' or 'User' and 'Admin'—it's all up to you.

Once you've set your conditions, it's time to apply them to your content. Highlight the text you want to conditionally show or hide, then select the appropriate condition from the dropdown menu. Voila! You've just created your first conditional text.

But remember, with great power comes great responsibility! Be careful not to confuse your readers with too many versions of the same content. Keep it straightforward, and your users will thank you for it.

Troubleshoot common issues in RoboHelp

Just like a road trip, creating Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation isn't always smooth sailing. Sometimes you hit a bump or two. But don't worry, I've got some handy tips for you to navigate through common problems in RoboHelp.

Ever encountered a situation where your project won't open? It might be due to corrupted CPD files. You can easily solve this by deleting the .cpd file and reopening the project. RoboHelp will generate a new .cpd file for you.

Navigating through broken links can feel like you're stuck in a maze. But guess what? RoboHelp has a built-in 'Broken Links' report. Run the report to find all the broken links in your project. Now you can fix them one by one and get out of that maze.

Wondering why your changes are not reflected in the output? It could be because you didn't regenerate your project after making changes. Remember, RoboHelp doesn't automatically update the output. Always regenerate your project to see the latest changes.

So there you go, a mini guide to help you troubleshoot common issues in RoboHelp. Keep these tips in your back pocket, and your journey in Adobe RoboHelp online help authoring and documentation will be a lot smoother.

If you found this blog post on Adobe RoboHelp helpful and want to explore more about creating and publishing your own content, check out the workshop 'Intro To Self-Publishing' by Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and guidance on how to effectively self-publish your work, which can be a great addition to your skillset as an online help author.