How Structured Content Authoring Can Transform Your Publishing Workflows

In today’s digital world, content is king. People in every industry expect the latest information as soon as it’s available. This is where structured content comes in handy. Because now people can consume content in more ways than ever before. Which means that content creators – from legal publishers to corporate training providers – need faster and easier ways to create, manage, and publish content across multiple channels. 

To meet today’s demand, content-generating organizations in multiple sectors need to modernize and digitally transform their workflows. And there really is only one solution. If you’re not already using it, structured content authoring has the power to revolutionize the way you produce and distribute content. 

Here’s our guide to structured content authoring – what it is, and how it can benefit your business. 

What is structured content authoring?

Structured content authoring is the process of organizing and formatting content in a standardized way, using predefined schemas, models, or markup languages. Structured content is divided into modular, reusable components, so it’s easier to manage and publish across multiple channels.

Unlike unstructured authoring – where content is created free-form without a predefined structure – structured authoring uses standardized formats, such as XML (eXtensible Markup Language) or JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), and specific schemas or models, such as DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) or

Giving content – such as legal documentation or e-learning materials – a standardized structure enables it to be easily reused, updated, and scaled. It also improves searchability, accessibility, and interoperability.

Which industries benefit from structured authoring?

Modern organizations – especially those in information-heavy industries – handle ever-increasing volumes of content in their workflows.


In publishing fields such as legal and regulatory, information is constantly changing. When the same content is published across multiple channels, it can be hard to update information everywhere in an accurate and timely manner. Structured content authoring enables information to be changed once, updated everywhere, and even translated into different languages thanks to AI translation services


Structured content authoring enables educators to organize courses, assessments, and multimedia resources in a structured format, facilitating better navigation, searchability, and accessibility for learners. By structuring content into modular, reusable components, educators can create, manage, and publish teaching materials – such as quizzes or e-learning – faster and more efficiently. For busy educators, this frees up time to focus on other responsibilities, such as course delivery. 


Governments handle huge volumes of content every day, including legislation, policies, and guidance documents. Structured content authoring helps government organizations deliver information in clear, standardized formats, making it easier for people to access and understand policies, services, and regulations. 


Corporations are among today’s biggest content producers. Structured content authoring enables companies to organize and manage internal knowledge bases, training materials, and procedural documents more efficiently. It also helps maintain brand guidelines and consistency across different channels and touchpoints, such as communications and marketing. 

What are the alternatives to structured content authoring?

Taking structured content authoring off the table leaves unstructured or semi-structured alternatives. 

  • Word Processing: Content creators use writing tools – such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word – to create unstructured content without any predefined structures or formats. This approach may result in inconsistencies between outputs. Thankfully, there is a way to combine structure authoring with your favorite writing tools. Discover why PublishOne x Microsoft Word is the last word on text editing

  • Desktop Publishing (DTP): Software – such as Adobe InDesign – offers templates and guidelines for content creation, providing a semi-structured approach. Content creators follow these guidelines while still retaining some flexibility in content creation.

  • Lightweight Markup Languages: Content creators can use lightweight markup languages, like Markdown, to format text using plain text syntax. Whilst this provides a more structured approach, it’s not as robust as structured authoring solutions such as XML. Thankfully, it is possible to handle complex conversions to and from XML and other document types without any fuss. Find out how to give your XML content management system a friendly face.

  • Manual Templating: Manual templating or document templates provided by word processors and desktop publishing software can help guide content creation. Although this offers some structure and consistency, it requires more manual effort and lacks the automation and scalability benefits of structured authoring.

Structured authoring versus unstructured authoring

Here’s a table of the main differences between structured content authoring and unstructured content authoring:

Content Structured Authoring Unstructured Authoring
Organization Follows predefined schemas, models, or markup languages such as XML, and JSON. Created without predefined structures or formatting guidelines.
Format Organized into modular, reusable components with clear semantics and metadata. Free-form with non-standardized organization.
Management Structure makes it easier to manage, reuse, and adapt across different platforms, devices, and contexts. Difficult to manage, reuse, and adapt due to a lack of structure.
Distribution Uniformity helps to streamline distribution of the same content across multiple channels. Unstructured content is non-standardized, creating difficulties in distribution.

5 benefits of structured content authoring 

There are many business benefits to authoring structured content. Here are 5:

  1. Improve efficiency: Structured content streamlines content creation, management, and distribution workflows, improving productivity, and reducing time-to-market.
  2. Maintain consistency: Structured content ensures uniformity in formatting, style, and presentation, maintaining consistency in branding, and user experience.
  3. Reuse and repurpose content: Content structured in modular components can be easily repurposed across different platforms, channels, and formats, saving time and effort.
  4. Enable interoperability: Structured content facilitates smoother interoperability between different systems, enabling seamless integration and sharing of content across platforms and applications.
  5. Better search and discovery: Semantic markup and metadata in structured content improve search visibility and discoverability, making content easier to find. 

The challenges of structured content authoring 

Getting the best from structured content authoring comes with its own challenges – especially for organizations that already have huge volumes of unstructured content. 

Migrating content to a structured format requires effort, including converting files, preserving metadata, and ensuring data integrity. Managing this migration process while minimizing disruption to publishing workflows takes careful planning and execution.

Finding a structured authoring tool that aligns with your specific publishing requirements, supports industry standards, and integrates seamlessly with existing workflows can be challenging. Content creators who are unfamiliar with markup languages or structured authoring are likely to need extensive training to use structured authoring tools and understand content models and schemas.

Operating in regional or global markets – such as the EU – makes managing multilingual content a challenge that requires specialized tools and expertise. Quality Assurance (QA) also comes into play, with the need to validate content against predefined schemas, stick to style guides, and ensure accessibility and usability across different platforms and devices.

On top of this, the need for scalability can create challenges around version control, content governance, and workflow automation in large-scale structured publishing initiatives.

Structured content authoring from PublishOne

PublishOne is a popular publishing platform for writers and publishers who need structured content authoring. Inside the cloud-based system, collaborators work on the same document in different ways: authors can write in Word, and publishers can format text using an XML editor.

Whilst some publishing systems rely on a specific XML editor, PublishOne integrates with multiple XML editors – including its own – plus popular writing tools like Microsoft Word. Collaborators can work in a modern, streamlined, and user-friendly environment that makes it easy to create, manage, and publish technical documentation. 

Structure content authoring inside PublishOne:

  • Enables content to be adapted and scaled across multiple channels.
  • Facilitates personalized content experiences and enhanced user engagement.
  • Promotes content reuse and efficiency, streamlining workflows. 
  • Enhances search engine visibility and discoverability, driving organic traffic.
  • Improves accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring equitable access to information.
  • Ensures compliance with industry regulations and mitigates legal risks.
  • Provides data-driven insights into content usage, engagement, and performance.


To discover how PublishOne can facilitate structured content authoring in your organization, speak to one of our friendly team. Contact us