What Is an Authoring Tool? There Are 2 Types; Why Should You Care?

As you start creating your eLearning course, you may find yourself wondering whether you need an authoring tool. But before you can decide, you need to understand what is an authoring tool.

What Is an Authoring Tool?

An authoring tool is a piece of technology that lets you create or author your course.

You need an authoring tool of some sort because you have to create the course. Without an authoring tool, you won’t be able to make the course.


A good way to understand what is an authoring tool is to look at some examples of authoring tools. These examples are tools that you won’t necessarily use for eLearning, but you could.

One set of examples would be the tools you use to create videos, such as iMovie, Windows Media Maker, Adobe Premiere, or something else. Another example category would be a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Google Docs. A third category and example would be those to create graphics, such as Canva.

The Two Types of Authoring Tools: Standalone and Native

There are two main types of authoring tools: standalone and native. The difference depends on whether they are part of an LMS.

Standalone authoring tools are not part of any LMS. Meanwhile, native authoring tools are part of an LMS. This means that they are built into your learning management system, and you don’t have to get another program. Using a native authoring tool reduces the number of programs you need to use. But using a standalone authoring tool lets you use it with other LMSs in the future. To learn about the differences between LMS and authoring tools, check out our blog post

Examples of Standalone Authoring Tools

There are a lot of examples of standalone authoring tools, but two of the most popular are part of Articulate 360. Articulate 360 is a suite of authoring tools that is incredibly popular. Companies like Visa, Google, GE, Target, and Microsoft use it. The most popular authoring tools within this suite are Storyline and Rise.

Storyline is incredibly comprehensive and lets you custom design your course. Meanwhile, Rise has a smaller learning curve and focuses on responsive learning that works across devices.

Another standalone authoring tool is Adobe Captivate. Interestingly, this is not part of the Adobe Creative Suite, so you have to get it separately. The focus of Captivate is turning PowerPoints into courses.

Examples of Native Authoring Tools

If you have an external course, then a good example of a native authoring tool is Kajabi. Kajabi is an LMS that also lets you market and sell your course. You can also author your course in it. Just remember that the course you create in Kajabi only works on Kajabi. You will have to rebuild it if you want to use it in another LMS.

For internal courses, TalentCards is a good native authoring tool. It is incredibly affordable and intuitive to use, both for you and your learners.


An authoring tool is what you use to create your eLearning course. Without one, you won’t be able to author or create a course. Native authoring tools, like Kajabi or TalentCards, are part of an LMS. Standalone authoring tools, like Rise, Storyline, and Captivate, are separate from LMSs.

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