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I have been creating custom tools (Python script tools) using Python with the ArcPy module.

I can set up the tool successfully with parameters and all, but I cannot figure out how to create help text that shows up on the sidebar of the tool like the standard ArcGIS tools have?

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In ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 and prior, right-click on the tool in ArcToolbox and select Edit Documentation.

At version 10 it is a little bit different, this thread on Esri Support describes the issue: http://forums.arcgis.com/threads/405-Beta-10-ArcToolbox-Documentation

Specifically, at 10.0, you need to access the toolbox item from the Catalog window within ArcMap 10 - it doesn't work from ArcCatalog itself. Right click on the individual tool, select Item Description, then click Edit.

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    Just an additional note, in 10.1 at least, you can access sidebar help the same way as ArcGIS 9.x. You don't need ArcCatalog. – Baltok Nov 20 '12 at 14:15

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