I am writing a massive project with a lot of content reused across various books. (See William's example below regarding the "Getting Started" topic that appears in four different books.)
I am required to output my project to both HTML5 and to PDF.
(BTW, I have just read some of Peter Grainge's piece on print output, in which he recommends outputting first to MS Word, then cleaning up the page breaks, and then saving the Word doc as a PDF. I will try that.)
What I originally did was to duplicate the TOC entries. Using the graphic below as an example, I would write the "Getting Started" content for the Accounts section, then I would copy that TOC entry into the remaining three sections.
The problem with that is when I output to PDF, the actual content itself will appear only in the Accounts section. In the other sections, the TOC entry "Getting Started" will appear, but there will be no textual content under it.
My question is: If I use the nesting/merging TOCs method, will I have this same problem, or will the textual content itself appear in all four sections of the printed output, as it should?
Just purely for overkill, I am including below an explanation of this problem specific to my project. It's written for my customer, to explain possible advantages of doing away with the requirement for paper output. (They are always clamoring for ways to speed up production of this manual. The entire manual is just me.)
Requiring a paper manual makes the project more complicated and time-consuming.
- Costs more time: since steps cannot be copied from one section into another, original content will have to be written separately in each section
- Threatens information reliability, integrity, consistency, since steps that should be identical will have to be updated separately
- Defeats some advantages of single-sourcing content (e.g. reliability, consisistency, updatability, time savings)
Without a requirement to have a paper version of the manual, the process would be speeded up. See the graphic below. Without the paper requirement, I could write Step X in the TA Process, and then just copy that same step into the Non-TA and Direct-from-Court processes.
On the website, whereas "Step X" appears in the TA, Non-TA, and Direct-from-Court sections of the manual, only the actual Table of Content entries (as opposed to the actual files) themselves are duplicated. In reality, all "Step X" appearances in those various sections actually point to a single "Step X" file within the underlying file structure. I could then click on "Step X" in any of those three sections (TA, Non-TA, and Direct-from-Court), edit the content of Step X, and the edits would be reflected in all appearances of that step, in all sections. (Again, this is because the various table of contents entries are in reality pointing to a single file.)
But what that means is that, IN THE PDF/PRINTED OUTPUT, the content in Step X will appear only in the TA Process section of the manual. Step X would be missing from the Non-TA and Direct-from-Court sections of the manual. This is because the PDF is building its content and its table of contents from the underlying file structure of the manual. (Also, the PDF output needs to be formatted separately from the web output.)