How to Create a Manual for Your Business
A helpful guide could be all it takes to make a person fall in love with a product.
Your manual will serve as a go-to guide that walks the reader through a process and establishes standards.
It’s a document people can pick up to answer any questions they have and then quickly move on to the next task.
For this reason, it’s important to create an informative manual that helps the reader with a process in a clear way.
That’s why we’re offering some helpful tips on how to create a manual for your business.
Outline Your Manual
Don’t jump feet first into creating your manual.
You won’t know how to create a manual until you take a step back. Outline what the document will cover, such as the main topic and subsections.
This will provide a natural flow to your manual, which will allow a reader to easily make their way from A to B.
Consider the Reader
It’s important to gain an understanding of your reader before you write your manual. As a result, you can shape the content to their needs, and offer product knowledge they need to read.
One of the best ways to learn more about the reader is by watching a consumer use a product.
For instance, does he or she know to do with an object? Do different users approach a task differently? Does anything unexpected happen?
Once you learn the common pitfalls, you can provide the best solutions.
Write in an Active Voice
An active voice is much easier to read in your manual. What’s more, it will make the reader feel as though you’re by their side as you walk them through a process.
For instance, an active voice will make it crystal clear that it’s the reader who will need to complete an action.
Try to avoid writing in the passive voice, such as writing verbs that use forms of “to be”.
Talk to Your Reader
Not only should you use an active voice, but you should talk directly to the reader. Write “you” when writing your manual so they feel like you’re speaking solely to them.
This will reinforce the message that the information is for their needs. It also helps to avoid that troublesome passive voice.
Provide Clear Instructions
Whatever you do, you must aim to write clear and simple instructions. A user manual should help a reader complete a task in the quickest possible time.
To do so, you can write:
- Numbered lists to provide step-by-step instructions.
- A parallel construction for each step, such as “enter” or “select”, to provide action cues.
- The facts – avoid superfluous information they don’t need to know.
Use Visual Aids
Many users may respond better to visual aids over detailed information. If anything, images can enhance written communications. For this reason, aim to feature diagrams, screenshots, cartoons or photos.
The formatting of the supporting images should be consistent with your manual style. You could work with a graphic designer to create an attractive manual to complement a brand.
You must also keep the visual aids as short as possible to avoid overwhelming a user.
How to Create a Manual
Simplicity, imagery, and organization is key to creating a professional manual.
It’s essential to consider the reader and their problems, so you can provide a handy solution. Once you’re happy with your manual, return to Hackworth for professional printing services. Contact us today to discuss our options.