How to Write Better Technical Manuals, 2nd ed. (PDF)
Why is there a manual to guide technical writers on how to write a manual?
Simply because many people are dissatisfied with much of the current material they need to read after buying a product. Major problems with instruction manuals are lack of forethought, planning, and organization.
Studies have shown that two-thirds of people that use technical manuals have said that “sometimes” product instructions make sense. One-third of people said that if they couldn't figure out how to use the product, they would return it and buy another product from a different company. That alone suggests that poorly written technical manuals should be of major concern to companies.
Poorly written or confusing instructions, incomplete information, too much focus on the product’s features and not enough focus on how to accomplish tasks were some of the complaints from manuals users. These are just some of the deficiencies in manuals that result in overburdened customer service call centers, negative views of the company’s brand, and loss of revenue.
This book addresses what makes a good manual, and ways to improve the content and structure of technical manuals. Established rules and guidelines are followed up with practical tips and suggestions that make it easier for the writer to follow. Checklists are included to help the writer keep on track during the three phases of writing their manual: Before You Start Writing, Checklist of Manual Content, and Checklist of Things to Look for During Revisions.