Use Confluence as a Knowledge Base

A knowledge base is a repository for how-to and troubleshooting information. Knowledge Bases are commonly used by IT Support teams, but can be useful for procedural and troubleshooting information in any organisation or team.

What do people want out of a knowledge base? Using an IT Support team as an example:

  • Customers want fast access to a solution, and relevant search results.
  • Help desk staff want to be able to create new articles quickly.
  • Help Desk team leads wants the space to be self curating, and do not want to spend a lot of time manually organising content.
  • Everyone wants a way to be notified when articles they are interested in have been updated or important notices are added.

Create a knowledge base space

(warning) You'll need the Create Space global permission to do this.

To create your knowledge base space:

  1. Choose Spaces > Create space > Knowledge base space
  2. Choose Space Tools > Permissions to set permissions for the space, including anonymous access
  3. Choose Create > How-to or Troubleshooting and follow the prompts to create your first knowledge base article

The knowledge base space blueprint includes everything you need to get started, including article templates, and a pre-configured homepage with Livesearch and Content By Label macros.

Page labels are essential in knowledge base spaces. These are used to add topics to your articles, and allows your knowledge base to become self-organising over time.

Users will generally find articles by searching, and using the topic navigation on the homepage and end of each article, rather than navigating through a tree-like page hierarchy.

When starting off your knowledge base space, it's a good idea to brainstorm a few topics to get started.

Customise your knowledge base space

You'll need Space Admin permissions to do this.

To make it easy for your users to create knowledge base articles, such as your help desk or support team, we recommend customising the how-to and troubleshooting article templates to make them relevant for your organisation. The more guidance and structure you can put in your template, the faster it will be for your team to create great articles.

To edit the article templates:

  1. Go to Space Admin > Content Tools > Templates.
  2. Edit the How-to or Troubleshooting article templates.
  3. Add headings and instructional text (choose Template > Instructional Text).

You can also add additional templates, such as a policy or procedure page templates.

We also recommend customising the look and feel of your space. Simple changes like a space logo and welcome message can make a huge difference.

To change the look and feel:

  • Add a space logo and useful shortcuts to the sidebar (choose Space Tools > Configure Sidebar)
  • Edit the homepage to add a custom welcome message.
  • Edit the colour scheme (choose Space Tools > Look and Feel > Colour Scheme).

Provide communication and notification options

Channels of communication with your audience, internal or external, are essential in a good knowledge base. Here are some out-of-the-box options:

  • Blog - blog updates and important notices, and encourage people to watch for new blogs in your space.
  • Watch - encourage people to watch pages that interest them, or watch the entire space.
  • Comments - allow logged in users (or even anonymous users) to comment on knowledge base articles. This is a simple way to connect with your end users. 
  • RSS - create an RSS feed and add the link to your knowledge base homepage (choose Help > Feed Builder). Alternatively encourage users to create their own feed - useful if they want to keep up with particular topics (labels), rather than receive notifications for the whole space. 

Integrating your knowledge base with other Atlassian products

If your Confluence site is connected to another Atlassian product (via an application link), you can make use of these great integration features:

  • If you use any JIRA application - add a JIRA Issues macro to your troubleshooting article to provide quick access to known issues. This has the added advantage of automatically updating when an issue is resolved or its status changes. One simple way to do this would be to add some labels to JIRA to indicate the issue should appear in the knowledge base (for example 'printer-kb'), and then add a JIRA Issues macro with a query like 'label = 'printer-kb and status <> resolved'' on all articles with the printer topic.
  • If you use JIRA Service Desk - link a Confluence space to be used as a knowledge base. Users (including those without a Confluence license) can search your knowledge base directly from within the Service Desk customer portal. 
  • If you use Questions for Confluence - add a Questions list macro to troubleshooting articles, to highlight the top questions with the same topic as the article, and an Ask a Question button to the knowledge base homepage. 

Extending your knowledge base with third party add-ons

The Atlassian Marketplace has a large number of add-ons for Confluence. A common addition to Knowledge Base spaces is a survey or form tool, which enables you to get feedback on the usefulness or usability of your knowledge base articles.

Search for 'knowledge base' on Marketplace and see if there is an add-on that's right for your knowledge base.

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