Paligo: Topic or Informal Topic?

Overview: Topics vs Informal Topics

Are you new to Paligo and a little unsure about the difference between topics and informal topics? Then this post is for you.

Here, I'm going to explain:

  • The difference between topics and informal topics
  • When you should create a new topic.

Topics in Paligo

Topics are for creating the sections of your content that will appear on (or as) pages in your output.Every topic has a title element, by default, which acts as a heading. For additional content, you need to add other elements, such as <para> for a paragraph.In the image below, 1=Title element, 2=Para element, 3=MediaObject>ImageObject>Imagedata.

It's important to think of topics as sections rather than pages. This concept can be strange at first, especially if you are used to working in other tools such as MadCap Flare, where each topic is a page in your web output. In Paligo, a topic is just a piece of information that has a heading. So if you want to have a web page that consists of one heading with text, you would create one topic. But if you wanted a page with a main heading and sub-headings, you would create several topics - one for each section that has a heading. You then use the publication to organise the topics into the structure that will form the page.General Rule: If you are creating a piece of content that needs a heading, create it as a topic.

Informal Topics in Paligo

Informal topics are designed for content reuse, and make it easy for writers to create a group of elements that can be embedded in topics. Informal topics have to be embedded in regular topics - they cannot be added to the publication structure.You can add lots of different elements to an informal topic, including paragraphs and images, but they do not have a title (as they should be embedded in a topic that already has a title).For example, let's say you have a product photo and a paragraph of descriptive text that you need to appear in many different topics. Instead of recreating the photo and text in each topic, you can add the photo and text to an informal topic.

You can then embed the informal topic in as many topics as you like. In the image below, the topic contains its own heading (Pulse and Wave), some text and an image, and also an informal topic (the image and text in the grey box).

Then, if you need to change the image or the text, you can make the change in the informal topic, and the change will apply to every topic that contains the informal topic too.If you've used MadCap Flare, an informal topic is similar to a snippet.General Rule: Only use informal topics if you need to reuse a group of elements. If you need to reuse a single paragraph element, the Reuse Text feature is quicker.

At a Glance...Topics vs Informal Topics


  • Use to present sections of content that will appear in your output (PDF, HTML5 Help, etc.).
  • Can be added to the publication's structure (the table of contents).
  • Have a title.
  • Can contain the elements that make up your content, such as paragraphs and images.
  • Can contain informal topics.
  • Can contain other topics.

Informal Topics

  • Use to contain a group of elements that can be reused in many topics (by embedding the informal topic).
  • Can only be embedded in topics. Cannot be used without topics.
  • Do not have a title.
  • Can contain the elements that make up your content, such as paragraphs and images.
  • Can contain other informal topics.
  • Cannot contain a topic.
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.

Always interested in new content writing opportunities. Remote working preferred.

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