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by Emerson Welch  |  November 17, 2023

Empowering Content Creators: Structured Authoring and Compliance Made Easy with Microsoft Word

Structured Authoring

In today’s evolving landscape of enterprise content, staying efficient and productive is not a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity. If you’re tired and frustrated by the complexity of some structured authoring interfaces while crafting your content, the good news is there’s a solution that overcomes these obstacles: structured authoring within Microsoft Word.

There’s a common misconception today that writing structured content requires a dedicated XML-based authoring tool. Often with a tricky learning curve, and that users need to know their way around a schema like DITA or DocBook, all of which makes collaboration with non-writers difficult. Not anymore!

In this blog, we’ll delve into the ways you can harness the power of Microsoft Word with a plug-in for structured authoring, establishing a seamless team workflow, and the benefits it brings to content creators, such as fostering effective collaboration with subject-matter experts. We’ll also explore how it ensures compliance, particularly in highly regulated industries like life sciences, and look at a compelling success story to illustrate the real-world benefits of Microsoft Word for structured content authoring.

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Leveraging Microsoft Word for Structured Authoring

One of the primary benefits of using Microsoft Word for structured authoring is its accessibility, enabling content and documentation to be rapidly generated. The built-in templates and styles simplify content creation tasks, making the process efficient and straightforward. Features like autofill and mail merge further expedite content creation, enhancing overall efficiency.

What’s more, omnichannel publishing is immersed inside Microsoft Word, making the process of reusing and publishing content across various output channels a breeze, all without compromising accuracy, format, or design. Writers can see a rendered preview of how their content will look for HTML, PDF, mobile app, and more, all from inside their Word interface. This is a significant time-saver that reduces errors, empowering content creators to focus on their core tasks.

Microsoft Word’s extensibility also supports XML schemas like DocBook and custom content models, allowing content creators to craft style maps for more effective content organization. This means that old, semi-structured documents can be mapped and imported into new content models in bulk, ready for reuse across the Component Content Management System (CCMS) repository. This process saves valuable hours that would otherwise be spent on reauthoring and technical work. It’s a powerful tool for content conversion.

Empowering Content Creators with Microsoft Word

One standout feature of Microsoft Word for structured authoring is its user-friendliness, eliminating the need for content creators to acquire technical skills or undergo extensive training in complex standards like DITA or XML. The automatic generation of XML streamlines content creation, making it highly efficient. Therefore, content creators can write in the same familiar way they do for any other Word document, without needing to grapple with XML, schemas, taxonomies or learn new authoring software. It’s as easy as that.

Furthermore, Microsoft Word’s interoperability supports co-authoring, enabling different stakeholders to provide feedback on different sections of a document while working on it simultaneously. These changes are automatically merged, speeding up the content creation process. The comments and suggestions that feature as part of the review-and-approval workflow further maximizes workflow productivity and content quality. Stakeholders can review the collaboration history, making it easier to understand the context of changes over time.

Post review-and-approval stage, content administrators and architects can import revisions into XML and automate the conversion of semi-structured .docx files into fully structured content components, which are stored in a CCMS. These components are ready to be assembled for use in new documentation. Business administrators can easily maintain system upkeep and make enhancements using Microsoft Word, ensuring that systems remain up to date and efficient for future content purposes.

Sustaining Compliance with Microsoft Word

For highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and life sciences, using a familiar format for seamless content management is paramount. Organizations can adopt structured authoring using Microsoft Word, an interface which simplifies the process with a user-friendly plug-in, minimizing user training and support requirements. The agency-neutral schema avoids mandatory content changes when XML submission standards evolve, ensuring your compliance remains intact. This capability is particularly crucial in regulated sectors such as pharmaceuticals, where compliance with evolving standards and regulations is of utmost importance.

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Benefits of Using Microsoft Word for Structured Authoring in Highly Regulated Industries

Highly regulated industries want the benefits of automation but require the highest level of quality and compliance be infused into the process. Take a highly regulated industry like pharmaceuticals for example – drugs are constantly updated per health authority requirements and recordings of adverse events, meaning their content needs the ability to be easily updated at all times.

Since the consumers of that content are patients in dire need for new and improved therapies, content needs to be created and updated as fast as possible. The benefits of using Microsoft Word for structured authoring in highly regulated industries are extensive:

  • It aids companies like pharmaceuticals in creating and managing compliant regulatory documentation, including product labeling, clinical labeling, test specifications and more.

  • Its built-in tracking and commenting features make it easy to collaborate on and review documents with multiple stakeholders and merge health authority feedback directly into Microsoft Word.

  • Its support for structured content also helps companies automate the creation of regulatory submissions with preconfigured templates for outputs like USPI, SmPC, Product Monograph and more, evolving from manual creation to automated assembly with human review.

Case Study: World-Leading Pharmaceutical Company

Let’s delve into a real-world example of how utilizing Microsoft Word for structured authoring can empower content creators and streamline content creation and compliance.

In this case, a world-leading pharmaceutical company has taken significant steps to enhance its legal and regulatory compliance by utilizing ComplianceAuthor® AI, integrated with Quark Publishing Platform (QPP). The result is a streamlined process for content creators to revise and reuse content while maintaining compliance and minimizing regulatory risks. QPP plays a pivotal role in embedding structured, dynamic content components that contain auto-generated XML for easy assembly and omnichannel output. As a result, different departments can effectively write structured XML content within the familiar Microsoft Word environment, without requiring any technical training on XML. This provides an end-to-end content automation solution for a sustained-complaint workflow.

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In conclusion, Microsoft Word offers a comprehensive solution for structured authoring, catering to the compliance needs of content creators, especially in highly regulated industries. Its user-friendly interface, extensibility, and collaborative features make it a powerful tool for empowering content creators and enhancing productivity, quality, and compliance. Why make your life difficult when you can choose Microsoft Word to create and manage your content in, ultimately scaling your business at a faster pace?

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