The term was coined by Robert E. Horn and became a central part of his Information Mapping method of analyzing, organizing, and displaying knowledge in print and in the new online presentation of text and graphics.
Horn and colleagues identified dozens of common documentation types, then analyzed them into structural components called information blocks. They identified over 200 common block types. These were assembled into information types using information maps.
The seven most common information types were concept, procedure, process, principle, fact, structure, and classification.
Some of the Problems that Structured Writing Addresses Structured writing has been developed to address many of the perennial problems most people have when working on a complex written communication task. Instructional design certainly qualifies as such a complex task. Some of these perennial problems are: - How should I organize the mass of subject-matter material? - How can I keep track of the structure? How can the reader keep track? - How can I make the structure of the document and the subject matter more obvious? - How do I analyze the subject so that I am sure that I have covered all of the bases? - How do I know the coverage is complete? How will the reader understand this scope? - In large analytic and communication tasks, how do I track multiple inputs, different levels of reader competence and rapidly multiplying and increasingly demanding maintenance requirements? - If I am working in an organization with a large number of writers, how do I provide the plan for a group of writers and how do I manage the group—efficiently—so that it will appear to the reader that there is a unity or organization, structure, analysis, style, graphic display and format? - How do I sequence the final document so that it will present the information to different levels of readers in the most useful manner? - How do I organize the linkages so that different readers with different backgrounds can get what they want from it easily and quickly? - What formats are optimum to enable users to make sense of the document as a whole and through the window of the current display? - How do we make instructional writing optimally effective and efficient? - These problems are not unique to instructional design. They are addressed one way or another by every person who writes a document. But they are the major issues faced by the paradigm of structured writing. The remainder of this chapter will examine how structured writing helps writers tackle these questions. These types are loosely related to the three basic information types in Darwin Information Typing Architecture - concept, task, and reference. An Information Mapping procedure is a set of steps for a person. A process is a set of steps for a system. Both resemble the DITA task. DITA topics are assembled into documents using DITA maps.
- Horn, Robert E. (1989). Mapping Hypertext: The Analysis, Organization, and Display of Knowledge for the Next Generation of On-Line Text and Graphics. Lexington Institute.
- Horn, Robert E. (1992). How High Can it Fly? Examining the Evidence on Information Mapping's method of High-Performance Communication. Lexington Institute.