Optimizing Word documents for online output

If you are importing Word documents that have been published in printed or online format, consider the following before linking or importing them into RoboHelp projects.

Heading hierarchies

Determine the best mapping of Word heading styles to RoboHelp styles so that you can achieve automatic pagination (splitting the document into topics) based on heading styles. If your document does not employ hierarchical heading styles, apply them before conversion. For example, you can apply Heading 1 style to standalone articles in your Word document. Then map this style to a similar RoboHelp style and define pagination to create an HTML topic for each Heading 1 style. See Pagination and topic naming in converted Word files.

Inline styles and style overrides

You can convert inline styles to CSS styles in RoboHelp. However, converting inline styles to CSS styles can lead to numerous styles that share the same formatting. See Converting Word styles to RoboHelp styles.

Header and footer information

RoboHelp can convert headers and footers. However, to ensure consistency across your topics, you can define a master page that contains the required header and footer information. By using master pages, you can also suppress page numbers in headers and footers. Convert headers and footers in Word documents.

Chapter versus topic

In printed documentation, the chapter is the logical and physical unit for grouping content. In online Help, the organizational unit is the topic, and users see topics one at a time. Although you can group the content into folders that expand when the user navigates the table of contents, only one topic appears on the screen at a time. Try to provide comprehensive infor­mation without adding redundancy by grouping related topics. See Pagination and topic naming in converted Word files.


As you import Word documents, you can also import the Word TOC into the RoboHelp TOC. You can define the topic hierarchy and represent that hierarchy in the RoboHelp TOC. See Importing a Word TOC, index, and glossary.

Context sensitivity

In online Help formats, you can link specific topics to dialog boxes and other elements that users encounter in the application workflow. You can assign map IDs to topics in RoboHelp. However, you can also assign context-sensitive Help markers in Word documents using custom footnote entries. RoboHelp reads these footnote entries and assigns the map IDs to the generated topics. Ensure that topics in the source Word document are not overly fragmented. A topic must contain sufficient information to make sense as a standalone unit.

For example, if a short task doesn’t make sense without some introductory conceptual infor­mation, don’t display that task as a standalone topic. To avoid overly fragmented content, assign context-sensitive Help markers to topics at a higher level. In this way, the generated Help topic can contain the concept, the task, and any relevant graphics. See Convert context-sensitive Help markers in Word to map IDs.

September 30, 2016

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