Adding Topics in Flare

Are you a Flare 'noob' and struggling to see how to structure your content? Then this article is just for you. Here, you will find out all about adding topics in the TOC rather than in the Content Explorer.

Is There any Structure to the Topics?

Today, I was asked by a new Flare user (hello, Luke) - "How do you create new topics in the project? The pages don't seem to be within a folder, they are all standing alone." He knows how to create a new project file, but what is puzzling him is how to position that file in relation to the other topics. I've seen this confusion before, and in one case, a technical writer had even turned her back on Flare because of experiencing this problem.The reason for the confusion is that when you run Flare, it shows you the Content Explorer by default. In the Content Explorer, things like snippets, images, etc., are organised into logical folders, but all of the topic files tend to be at the same level.

flare content explorer

If you are used to working with FrameMaker or Word, the lack of a 'contents'-style structure can be a little off-putting. Which is why I never ever work with content in the Content Explorer (I only use it for adding images, snippets, etc.). Instead, I work in the Table of Contents file (TOC).

Working in the TOC

If you want to organise your content into the equivalent of books and chapters, you need to use a TOC file. But I find it much easier to work in the TOC all of the time.To get to a TOC file, open the Project Organizer (select Project Organizer below the Content Explorer...or wherever it is, if you have changed the default Flare layout). In there, you have a TOCs folder - open that and you will see your TOC file(s). By default, there is just one, called 'Master'.

flare project explorer

Open the TOC file and you are presented with a more familiar-looking hierarchy of content.

Flare TOC

From here, you can add and move topics to create the overall document structure that you want. There are buttons at the top for adding topics and new TOC entries, books, etc. The important thing to note is that if you add a New Item, you are just adding a new entry in the TOC, not a new topic. The New Item needs to be associated with a topic. If you want to create a new TOC entry and topic at the same time, use the Create a New Topic and Link to it option.You can also link the book folders to topics, or alternatively, you can leave them without a topic. A book folder with no topic just expands in the output to reveal links to the topics that are in the book.

Craig Wright technical author

Craig Wright is an experienced technical writer based in Chesterfield, UK.  He hates writing about himself in the third person, so I shall stop now.

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