Understanding the sections in a documentation plan

A typical documentation plan contains the following sections:

  • Front matter
  • Executive presentation
  • Overview
  • Marketing information
  • Production information
  • Staffing
  • Schedule
  • Detailed outline
  • Audience Analysis (optional)
  • Author resume (optional)
  • Terms of agreement (optional)

The front matter in a documentation plan is actually several parts: the title page, a table of contents, and a change log.

The executive presentation is an executive summary and a summary outline.

The overview contains information about the scope and purpose of the project, the goals, and the relationship to other projects.

The marketing information section discusses the marketing justification for the project, marketing plan, and any special marketing considerations.

The production information section describes what the finished project will look like, what artwork is required, and printing/ebook and distribution information.

The staffing section lists who will do the various tasks, who will review the document, and who will approve it.

The schedule section identifies when each phase of the project is due, along with any assumptions that went into determining the schedule.

The detailed outline is an in-depth outline of the book or document.

You may have optional sections as appendixes. If you have a detailed audience analysis such as personas or extended information about the audience(s) for this document/book, it’s a good idea to have an appendix with your supporting information and analysis. If you’re using this as a sales document or bid proposal, you may also want an appendix containing your resume. And if you’re using the documentation plan to describe a piece of contract work, you may also want to have a section listing the terms of agreement, which describes who will be responsible for which pieces, what the handoff is, and the assumptions on which the plan is based.

3 Responses to “Understanding the sections in a documentation plan”

  1. I’m glad you listed the Terms of Agreement. I recommend including this section regardless of whether the project is contract work or internal to an organization. It’s a place to list, for all of the stakeholders to see, what you expect from each of them and what they can expect to receive from you.

    I also like to include a summary of the audience analysis (perhaps this could go in the Marketing Information section) and a high-level breakout of the budget.

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