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Good tools for writing (game) manuals and sourcebooks

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As I had asked in another part of Stackexchange (didn't know about this part until some comments there) I'm writing manuals (mostly for computer games, but in addition to this also for tabletop games, pen and paper rpg games) and sourcebooks (world books for tabletop games).

Now I've run into a few troubles there with MS Word, as the text grew fast very cumbersome to organize (I lost oversight quite fast and had to search for parts of the text quite long time and again) and in addition to that I couldn't position text as I needed and also including pictures (screenshots and graphics) was more cumbersome than I would have liked (also using pictures as backgrounds for some of the pages was cumbersome).

So my question is: Are there any good tools out there where I can create such manuals and sourcebooks with?

As a note here: I'll have to print out those manuals/sourcebooks but also want to put them into PDFs.

Edit: As it was asked in a comment:

  • Pictures are very present. Part as charts, part as pieces of art to lighten up the book
  • Some pics are taking up a whole page, others take up only part of a page and are in between a section and its text, and others again are background images above which text is printed.
  • There are up to 8 different types of texts (titles,...) At some locations the text must be even displayed so that "2 columns" are on the page while on most it's 1 column per page.
Why should this post be closed?

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/q/12382. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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3 answers

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As Lauren loves Scrivener I love LaTeX! It lets you code your books, build reusable modules and makes laying out text a breeze.

Writelatex.com is an amazing free site that lets you work with LaTeX online, work collaboratively and save your documents as Zips or PDFs.

We use it to write the rulebooks for our tabletop games and RPG systems; we have a template set up with modules that you can elect to include (box contents, aim, setup, etc...) and a default style. Using a style sheet much like CSS we can comment in or out different styles as required, so that we can keep a uniform structure but theme the document on the game in question.

I also use LaTeX for my writing, using a template to split sections into separate modules with a defined plot guide and a handy "things to look for" checklist at the top of each module. I've found splitting the story out into manageable chunks makes it easier to write and stops me from ending up in plot-falls.

Overall I find LaTeX to be not only useful for it's flexability but also for the way that having pre-built, modular documents makes writing a new rulebook a matter of simply changing some options and adding some text. The time it saves us, and the consistency it gives us, is well worth the effort of getting your head round it.

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/12389. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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If you have the financial resources, the manpower (a team for a synchronized multitasked work environment), the time for self (or paid) training and the will to participate in a much slower than SE community for help, Adobe's "Technical Communication Suite" is your solution. It's the top notch, state-of-the-art, standards supporting "technical documentation" solution on the market. Just Framemaker itself would convince technical writers to try it for once.

But as I've stated above it has its drawbacks.

If you're a "one man show", you should stick with open source solutions.

This post was sourced from https://writers.stackexchange.com/a/12709. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

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This is a job for Scrivener! :)

Scrivener is an incredibly flexible writing program. It allows you to sort your thoughts into multiple documents within a project, see two documents at once, create hyperlinks, drop in photos and audio files, and then export as Word or print to PDF. You can view your documents as notecards on a corkboard with tags and summaries so you can rearrange things easily. You can create "folders" for your documents and view them like a file tree.

If you search the site for Scrivener and check the scrivener tag, you'll find more comments here from other users detailing the program's usefulness.

The only other recommendation I could make would be InDesign if the layout is very important, but that's only for the design part, not the organizing and writing part.

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