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What is a Quick Reference Guide?

Two people looking at a booklet, representing the importance of quick reference guides.

Oftentimes, a user does not need to fully understand every minute detail of a product in order to use it. For example, very few people have complete knowledge about how a car’s engine, transmission, or suspension works, but they can still drive a car perfectly fine. This is the idea behind Quick Reference Guides, one of the most common forms of technical writing. A technical writing team can distill the intricacies of a product into a short guide that will enable users to effectively use the product.

What is the Purpose of a Quick Reference Guide?

A Quick Reference Guide is a short piece of technical documentation (usually 1-2 pages) that briefly describes how to use a product. Unlike a full-length Owner’s Manual, a Quick Reference Guide likely won’t include information regarding every small detail about a product. Instead, these guides focus on the usability aspects of a product. A technical writing professional has the knowledge and experience to know how to differentiate between information that is necessary for a product’s use versus less essential information. This technical documentation style allows users to more easily become familiar with a product or service and requires fewer resources to create than a full Owner’s Manual.

What is the Objective of a Quick Reference Guide?

Quick Reference Guides make products more accessible to consumers, which is very important for growing a customer base. Additionally, a lengthy Owner’s Manual will require more time and resources to create than a Quick Reference Guide, and, if done correctly, there is a high chance that consumers would not necessarily need the extra information present in an Owner’s Manual. Lastly, if printed on paper, a Quick Reference Guide would reduce the amount of paper needed compared to other forms of technical documentation, cutting production costs. Some further benefits are…

  • Makes it easier for consumers to familiarize themselves with a product, boosting customer satisfaction 
  • Simplifies usage of a product while still providing enough information for consumers to get the full use and value out of your product
  • QRF’s shorter form makes documentation less time- and resource- consuming to make.
  • Prioritizing accessibility and efficiency helps build a loyal customer base

Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or

Written by Jeffrey Pinsker-Smith