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Instruction Manuals

Instruction manuals teach readers how to make use of a tool or service, or the steps to perform a task.

What Are Instruction Manuals?

Instruction Manuals are technical documentation that help users install, set up, operate, and troubleshoot a product. Also known as user guides, owner manuals, or operation manuals, instruction manuals help guide the user from the beginning. From installation and assembly, to proper usage and operation, to troubleshooting issues that might arise, instruction manuals give users comprehensive directions without needing to call customer service.

Why Are Instruction Manuals Important?

Instruction manuals provide valuable information on how to make use of, set up, or maintain products.  Without these documents, many workers who operate a specific product in the course of performing their duties would have no guidance on how to do so, while consumers would not know how to make use of a product.  Furthermore, instruction manuals ensure that a product’s users have a way to find solutions to any problems they might be having with the product.  Almost every – if not every – industry needs instruction manuals in some capacity in order to function effectively.

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Types of Instruction Manuals

There are two primary types of instruction manuals: user manuals and operations manuals:

User Manuals

User manuals are geared towards consumers and are written so that a user of any experience can set up and operate the product. These manuals will include directions for installation, assembly, and set up, as well as how to operate the product. Many user manuals also offer solutions for common product issues, often in the form of FAQs.

Operations Manuals

Operations manuals are geared towards employees and organizations, showing how to operate a product properly and with ease. They function similarly to user manuals but are geared towards a more specific audience and can include more technical language as the audience will likely have some level of industry knowledge.

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Components of an Instruction Manual

There are certain components that all instruction manuals should have.  First, they should give a general description of the product, including its capabilities and purpose.  They should also, of course, include instructions on how to use, install, assemble, or maintain the product, depending on the type and particular purpose of the instruction manual.  These instructions should both be detailed enough to cover any necessary information, and clear enough for the reader to understand.

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How to Create Instruction Manuals

When creating an instruction manual, the writer should first determine what the product in question is meant to accomplish, who specifically was meant to use it, and how it was built.  They can then use this information to tailor their writing to ensure that the intended readers can easily make use of the instruction manual.  The first step in instruction manual writing should be to create a table of contents so that readers can quickly find the information they are looking for.  Next should be the general description of the product, as mentioned in the section above.

Then, they should provide step-by-step instructions of how to use, assemble, or install the product, making sure to – as previously mentioned – provide any details necessary while also keeping the instructions clear and easy to understand.  The writer should also have the instructions be accompanied by diagrams or other visual elements to help readers understand the information in the manual.  Next, the instruction manual should have a section that describes how to maintain the product.  Furthermore, the writer should add an FAQ page or other section to help with customer support.  Finally, the writer should add a glossary to explain any confusing or complicated terms in the instruction manual.

Who Writes Instruction Manuals?

Instruction manuals are primarily written by technical writers.  Technical writers specialize in re-interpreting complicated information into forms that are easier for readers to understand.  This is particularly helpful when writing documents such as instruction manuals, which can cover complicated topics or tasks.  However, technical writers might also consult workers who are familiar with an instruction manual’s topic in order to gain their insight on said topic.  For instance, a technical writer who is creating an instruction manual for a piece of construction equipment could consult a worker with extensive experience in using or maintaining that kind of equipment.

What Industries use Instruction Manuals?

While a great number of industries use instruction manuals to some extent, there are certain industries that use these manuals particularly frequently, or for which instruction manuals play a key role in their operations.

One of the industries which makes the most use of instruction manuals is the electronics industry.  This industry creates a large number of products that are used in almost every sector of society, with many of those products being at least fairly complicated to use or set up, meaning that instruction manuals are particularly necessary for consumers to make use of those products.  The software industry and computer industry also use instruction manuals extensively, and for similar reasons to the electronics industry.

The medical technology industry also makes extensive use of instruction manuals.  Not only are many medical devices and other products produced by this industry complicated, but in the medical field, lives might depend on someone knowing how to properly and effective use a medical device.  Indeed, the medical technology industry is required by law to provide instructions for the use of its products.

Benefits of Instruction Manuals

Well-written user manuals secure a wide variety of benefits, including…

  • Provides a step-by-step installation and setup guide, reducing customer confusion and frustration
  • Provides a guide for correct and full usage of the product, creating brand loyalty 
  • Gives employees a guide for proper and efficient usage of the product, allowing for less time and resources spent on training
  • Lays out solutions for common issues and concerns that might arise during product usage, reducing strain on technical support
  • Provides a clear guide for user interactions from start up through operation, creating greater customer satisfaction and promoting customer loyalty 
  • Concise and organized documentation keeps all necessary information in one place, developing higher end-user satisfaction levels and leading to return customers

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 sales@edc.us

Written by Gwen Nicastro