As a technical writer, your job is to provide critical information in clear, easy-to-read copy. The formatting alone might take hours.
Whether you’re penning user manuals, help files, or online help FAQs, help authoring tools (HAT) are a must. With the right software in your corner, you’ll have an easier time creating, managing, and distributing online documentation at the speed of light. ⚡
In this guide, we’ll explain what help authoring tools are and why you need one ASAP. We’ll also share a few must-have HAT features and our top 10 favorite software solutions for help authoring.
What Is a Help Authoring Tool (HAT)?
Help authoring tools are specialized software that technical writers use to produce help documentation. These tools usually come with a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor that lets you focus on the content while the software handles the finicky formatting and indexing. HATs even turn out copy in various output formats, including HTML, CHM, ePub, XML, and RTF. 📚
Sure, it’s possible to write technical copy without a HAT, but consider embracing one to:
- Save time with templates and pre-formatted styling
- Create content once and share it across all platforms and formats
- Automatically index and organize your copy
- Localize copy with integrated translation management tools
Features to look for in a help authoring tool
Every HAT is a little different, but we recommend one with functionalities like:
- A user-friendly interface: The smaller the learning curve, the quicker you’ll be able to start writing
- Single-source authoring: This feature is a real time-saver. It allows you to create content once and publish it in multiple formats with a single click
- Templates: Pre-designed templates speed up the copywriting process and give your text a consistent look and feel
- Integrations: A good help authoring tool should integrate with the other tools you already use, like Microsoft Word documents or popular SaaS tools
- Version control: Track changes, collaborate with team members, and manage different document versions without losing any work
- Project management: Organizing content, assigning tasks to team members, and monitoring your progress is a lot easier with a built-in workflow
- CCMS: A component content management system (CCMS) allows you to build text as modular snippets that are easy to adjust and reuse across a knowledge base. This is a game-changer if your documentation has a lot of repetitive copy
10 Best Help Authoring Tools of 2023
You’re an expert at translating technical mumbo-jumbo into clear, concise user guides. Focus on the content and lean on one of the 10 best help-authoring software options for everything else.
Have you ever wished you could wave a magic wand and bring your work, communications, and documents into one place? 🧙
No need for fancy wizardry here: just use ClickUp. The universe’s favorite project management platform is also one of the best help authoring tools.
It combines your work, files, and data in one place for a completely customizable experience.
It works with all projects, tasks, Docs, templates, and more. 🦾
ClickUp Docs is a cloud-based word processor perfect for remote and hybrid technical writers. As a help authoring tool, it connects to your workflows so you don’t need a separate system for copy and task management.
If you work on a team, bring everyone together in real-time with the Docs editor—you won’t miss a beat.
You’re probably juggling multiple projects and documents. Stay on top of everything with ClickUp project management. Create projects and tasks and link them to your communications, files, and notes. Literally everything is in one place—no more hunting for data or files.
ClickUp best features
- Check out time-saving templates like the ClickUp Writing Guidelines template, which establishes standards for language, formatting, tone, and more
- Brainstorm with your team in real-time with ClickUp Whiteboards
- Got big goals? Connect them to your day-to-day work with ClickUp Goals
- Switch to Chat view to view all of your conversations in one place
- ClickUp AI is only available for paid plans
- ClickUp has a lot of features, so the platform might feel like a lot at first
- Free Forever
- Unlimited: $7/month per user
- Business: $12/month per user
- Business Plus: $19/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
- ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace member per month
ClickUp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (9,000+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,800+ reviews)
Helpjuice is a knowledge-based software for authoring and content formatting. If you’re curious to know how many people actually read your documentation, Helpjuice’s analytics tally how many people engage with your copy.
The component content management system also keeps a robust article history—and allows you to publish multiple copy versions at once—so you never have to worry about losing your work.
Helpjuice best features
- It integrates with Slack, Google, Salesforce, Zapier, and more
- Control who sees what with tiered permissions
- Copy-paste images, screenshots, or text from a Word document directly into the Helpjuice word processor
- Easily interlink help articles with its auto-linking tool
- Helpjuice doesn’t offer project management tools
- Some users report problems with the UI/UX
- Starter: $120/month for 4 users
- Run-Up: $200/month for 16 users
- Premium Limited: $289/month for 60 users
- Premium Unlimited: $499/month for unlimited users
Helpjuice ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.5/5 (29 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (90+ reviews)
Author-it bills itself as an all-in-one tool for technical writers. Its help authoring tools offer a modular CCMS that allows you to switch out and adjust a lot of content at once—with just a click.
Publish across multiple channels and web formats with zero formatting.
Author-it best features
- Variant management adjusts copy based on the reader’s team, role, and location
- Review and approval workflows ensure that only approved copy goes out
- Use Author-it for technical document translation
- Collaborate with other writers and subject matter experts
- Several users say Author-it’s UI is a bit dated and not very intuitive
- Others say the licensing costs are pretty steep
- Contact for pricing
Author-it ratings and reviews
- G2: 4/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4/5 (2 reviews)
4. Adobe RoboHelp
That’s right: The company that brought you Photoshop also has help authoring tools. RoboHelp is a technical writing tool designed with compliance and accessibility in mind, so if you work in a heavily regulated field, this could be a great HAT for the job.
RoboHelp includes a spell checker, conditional content, content reuse features, and content microauthoring.
RoboHelp best features
- Integrate with SharePoint Online, Git, and more
- RoboHelp is available on both Windows and Mac
- RoboHelp has simplified Microsoft Word, HTML, and Markdown imports
- Online Review makes it a cinch to adjust or approve copy before it goes out into the world
- Some users say RoboHelp is best for SMBs, not large companies
- Others say it’s hard to export RoboHelp files to other platforms and multiple formats
- Contact for pricing
RoboHelp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (140+ reviews)
Document360 is an AI-powered content creation tool for SOPs, product documentation, knowledge base wikis, and manuals. Create a custom internal Knowledge Base Portal—complete with analytics—to build help documentation alongside your team.
You can then brand an internal or external Knowledge Base site to share information at the speed of light. ✨
Document360 best features
- Create embeddable widgets connecting webpages to your knowledge base
- Document360 includes developer documentation tools
- Try Document360’s AI writing assistant, Eddy, for assistive search, article recommendations, and summaries
- Create up to six content categories to quickly organize related documents
- Document360 doesn’t have a mobile app
- Several users wish larger video and image files were supported
- Standard: $149/month for 3 users, billed annually
- Professional: $299/month for 5 users, billed annually
- Business: $399/month for 5 users, billed annually
- Enterprise: $599/month for 10 users, billed annually
Document360 ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (370+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (190+ reviews)
6. Madcap Flare
Madcap is a suite of software solutions, but its Flare product is a primo option when it comes to help authoring tools. Use Flare to import, author, review, translate, and publish content.
If you’re curious about post-production usage, check out Flare’s real-time analytics to see how useful people find your self-service content.
Flare best features
- Flare comes with a free 30-day trial
- Import from Word, Excel, FrameMaker, Confluence, RoboHelp, DITA, Markdown, and more
- Use the WYSIWYG editor and Structure Bars to write clean, organized copy in less time
- If you know a little code, use the Split View Editor with XML Code View
- Some users say the platform lags or has bugs
- Others say the review workflow is a little clunky
- Madcap Flare: $182/month per user, billed annually
- Madcap Central: $311/month, billed annually
Flare ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.4/5 (420+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4/5 (17 reviews)
ProProfs has many features, but as a technical writer, you’ll get a lot of value out of their Knowledge Base software. Build user manuals, an internal knowledge base for your employees, or a public-facing customer help site for less hassle.
Its authoring tools are ideal for teams building content in multiple languages too.
ProProfs best features
- ProProfs Knowledge Base is 100% customizable
- Use premade templates or make your own
- ProProfs connects to over 100 other applications
- Assign roles and permissions and manage feedback with internal comments
- Several users wish ProProfs had more templates
- Others say ProProfs glitches often
- Free: up to 25 articles
- Business: $19.99/month for 100 articles, billed annually
ProProfs ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.5/5 (35 reviews)
- Capterra: 4.8/5 (53 reviews)
HelpNDoc is a help authoring tool with over eight project documentation formats. Generate HTML websites, PDFs, Kindle eBooks, CHM, or DocX files for just about any use case.
In terms of help authoring tools, this might not have the most modern interface, but HelpNDoc integrates tons of features like a content library, keyword editor, table of contents editor, and more.
HelpNDoc best features
- Export content into multiple formats at once
- You’ll need to know how to code, but the platform does come with the full source code for all templates
- Build responsive HTML5 websites that work on any device
- Automate repetitive tasks with the Script Editor
- It doesn’t have a lot of reviews
- You need to know how to code to use many HelpNDoc features
- The user interface is a bit dated
- Standard: 99€ ($104.39)
- Professional: 299€ ($315.29)
- Ultimate: 499€ ($526.19)
HelpNDoc ratings and reviews
- G2: 4/5 (15 reviews)
- Capterra: N/A
Confluence combines knowledge management and project collaboration in one platform. It’s primarily a knowledge base, but it also functions as a help authoring tool.
Brainstorm ideas with your team in Confluence whiteboards, build spaces for separate projects, or co-edit content in real-time with your team.
Confluence best features
- Convert Confluence content into Jira issues
- Build content trees to simplify advanced search
- Confluence comes with 75+ customizable templates
- It easily integrates with Jira and Trello
- Some users say it’s hard to integrate Confluence with any platform that isn’t owned by Atlassian
- It doesn’t integrate with popular collaboration solutions like Microsoft Teams
- Free: up to 10 users
- Standard: $6.05/user per month (discounts after 100 users)
- Premium: $11.55/user per month (discounts after 100 users)
- Enterprise: after 801 users, contact for pricing
Confluence ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.1/5 (3,600+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (3,100+ reviews)
ClickHelp is an all-in-one portal for creating, hosting, and sharing technical documentation. It has a presence in more than 90 countries, so ClickHelp is the perfect fit for multinational companies in need of translation management.
Its help authoring tools allow you to customize the portal to your liking and collaborate with your coworkers in real-time.
ClickHelp best features
- ClickHelp integrates with MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, MS Word, Confluence, and more
- Quickly view all topic statuses, comments, and to-dos by topic
- ClickHelp supports single-sourcing to streamline content reuse
- Generate public or password-protected documents
- Some users report poor customer support experiences
- Others say the platform is on the expensive side
- Starter: $175/month for 2 users ($8/month per user after 2)
- Growth: $285/month for 5 users ($10/month per user after 5)
- Professional: $580/month for 10 users ($12/month per user after 10)
ClickHelp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.8/5 (60+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (19 reviews)
Write Better Content With Less Hassle
Robust help authoring tools aren’t a luxury for technical writers—they’re a must-have.
From advanced AI features to time-saving templates, the right HAT streamlines the entire documentation process so you write better guides in less time.
If you want to simplify your workflow and provide an all-star end-user experience, choose ClickUp as your help authoring tool. We combine project management, Docs, AI, templates, and a lot more to give your technical writing a serious boost. 🤩
Give it a spin and see how you like it: Create your free ClickUp Workspace now.