By Alyssa Gregory 7 Tips for Writing an Effective Instruction Manual In your day-to-day work, you might find that there are times when you need to provide a client with documentation that walks them through a process or teaches them how to do something they may be unfamiliar with. Here are seven tips to help you create a comprehensive yet coherent instruction manual. Get out of your own head: When you begin to prepare instructions for processes you know inside and out, you will need to consciously take a step back and approach the material from a new angle.
Did you start at the beginning and read the whole manual? You probably looked first at the index or the table of contents. Once you found the right page or topic, you probably scanned the page first to see if it contained the information you needed.
This is how most people read manuals. No one wants to read your user manual. No one will read your user manual from front to back savoring every word and phrase. Technical documents are not novels. Readers want user manuals to answer their questions quickly so that they can get back to whatever they were doing.
A successful user manual provides users with quick answers to the questions that they might have about a particular product.
Users want to know how to complete tasks. Technical writing focuses on user tasks and the concepts that support the tasks. Below are some practical tips on writing user manuals that will help you to write content that adapts to the needs of users.
You should have a good understanding of your users so you can understand the information they need to know, their background, and their knowledge of the product. Once you think like a user, you can write content that the users need to know. If you have the opportunity, you will find it very useful to watch users actually using the product.
When you watch users interacting with the product, you will get a better idea of what the users need to do, how they approach each task, and when they might use approaches to tasks that are unexpected. Use active voice Active voice emphasizes the user and is easier to read and understand.
In most cases, especially in user manuals, you should use active voice. In active voice, the subject and verb in the sentence are clear. In passive voice, the subject is unknown and is acted upon by something that is not known or not stated.
Compare the two sentences below. Supplies that will be needed to complete this project include a hammer, a screwdriver, and a rubber mallet. The sentence that uses active voice makes it clear that the reader is the person who will complete the action.
By using the active voice, you will make your writing more clear, concise, and direct. Focus on the reader User manuals should always focus on the reader. Speaking directly to the reader will: Reinforce the message that the information is intended for the reader Pull readers into the document and make it relevant to them Help to avoid passive voice by focusing on the reader Compare the two sentences below.
Lack of reader focus: There are three options for viewing content in the editor. You can choose from one of three options for viewing content in the editor.
Write clear instructions The primary objective of user manuals is to help users complete tasks. Below are some guidelines to help you write clear and concise instructions. Use parallel construction for each step.
When you start each step with an imperative word, you are providing the user with clear cues on the required action for each step. Avoid using a system response as a step. You can incorporate system responses when necessary in the step that initiated the system response or you can mention the system response at the beginning of the following step, e.
Provide just enough information so that the user can complete a task or understand a concept.
Omit any extraneous information that the user does not need to know. Concise content makes it easier to understand concepts and tasks.ASQ Auditing Handbook _4th leslutinsduphoenix.com - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online.
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