There’s an interesting discussion about the importance of transitional text going on at, the online home of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). In Do We Really Need All that Glue?, JoAnn Hackos explores the debate over the need for “glue text” in technical manuals. Glue text is defined as “transitional information intended to inform readers of what has come before or comes after a particular procedure, description, or explanation.”

“In topic-oriented authoring, which forms the basis for the DITA Model, transitional text has become problematic,” Hackos writes. “If the goal is to write standalone topics that may be used in more than one context, where does one put the transitional text? Does transitional text belong in a topic by itself? Should it be built into a task, concept, or reference topic? Does transitional text belong in the map so that it does not encumber the standalone topics?”

According to Hackos the solution is to “stop treating technical manuals as if they were textbooks and preserving the conventions and artifacts of text books in our style guides.”

What do you think? Join the conversation.