Topic structure

The OpenStack community welcomes all contributors to documentation. This section provides ideas on how to structure the content for an OpenStack project by using the principles of topic-based authoring.

Topic-based authoring is a method of content creation in which information is structured in small chunks of a particular type. In contrast to book content, where information has a linear structure, in topic-based authoring you presume that a user can begin reading documentation from any topic. Therefore, each topic represents an independent piece of information. Each topic states prerequisites and dependencies, if any, as well as providing information about the next steps.

In topic-based authoring, a chunk of information is called a topic.

Structure the information around the following topics:


A concept topic explains a particular functionality. It does not provide a sequence of steps or information on how to use the functionality.

Example of a concept topic title: Introduction to the OpenStack components and services.

A concept topic includes:

  • Title

  • Description

  • Related links

  • (optional) Diagrams

  • (optional) Examples


A task topic provides a sequence of steps (a procedure) detailing how to achieve a particular outcome, such as configuring a network. If you have conceptual information related to the task, put it into an overview before the procedure. Make the steps in the procedure concise. Start each step in a procedure with a verb. If the step includes a command example, end the introductory sentence with a colon (:).

Examples of concept topic titles:

  • Section topic title: Monitoring performance.

  • Task topic title: Delete a node, Recover from a failure.

A task topic includes:

  • Title

  • Short description (overview)

  • Procedure (a sequence of steps)

  • Result

  • Related links (See also)

  • (optional) Examples


A reference topic provides additional information about a functionality. Typically, information in a reference topic is presented in lists or tables.

Example of a reference topic title: Supported operating systems.