Topic-oriented writing is a disciplined approach to writing that emphasizes modularity and reuse of concise units of information: topics. Well-designed DITA topics can be reused in many contexts, as long as writers are careful to avoid unnecessary transitional text.
Readers who are trying to learn or do something quickly appreciate information that is written in a structure that is easy to follow and contains only the information needed to complete that task or grasp a fact. Recipes, encyclopedia entries, car repair procedures--all serve up a uniquely focused unit of information. The topic contains everything required by the reader.
A well-designed topic is reusable in other contexts to the extent that it is context free, meaning that it can be inserted into a new document without revision of its content. A context-free topic avoids transitional text. Phrases like "As we considered earlier ..." or "Now that you have completed the initial step ..." make little sense if a topic is reused in a new context in which the relationships are different or no longer exist. A well-designed topic reads appropriately in any new context because the text does not refer the reader outside the topic.
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