How to Write an Instruction Manual?

Have you been entrusted with the job of writing and designing an instruction manual? Are you wondering how to go about performing this job?

Don’t worry. You apparently already have all the knowledge you need to add, or at least you know where to obtain it. Now all you need to know is the structure and the process.

To begin with, write a summary or synopsis of the audience your manual is designed for: 

  1. What do they understand already? 
  2. What do they need to acquire? 
  3. What are their intentions? 
  4. What are the purposes of the manual? Y

You may want to discuss this audience’s information and goals with co-workers or your employer to ensure you’re including everyone and planning to meet the organization’s needs.

Next, make a list of all the points you need to add. 

  1. Do these ideas and topics need to be in a particular sequence to be learned or understood? In other words, does one section model on information known in the previous section? 
  2. Do procedures/topics need to be grouped by category, such as “Troubleshooting Ideas” or “Employee Benefits”? 

If so, format your topics accordingly. Then share your order with others and request their input to ensure you’ve considered everything. Get the necessary approval if needed. This outline will become the foundation for the table of contents in your handbook. Now you’re ready to get started composing the body of your manual.

Although you could write in any order to fill in your outline, we’ll start at the beginning.

  1. First, you’ll need a neat Title Page with a detailed name, like “How to Use the XYZ Drone” or “NYK Daily Employee Handbook.” 
  2. Next should be a detailed copyright page containing the date of printing and legal writeup about ownership by the company, publisher, or author. This page sometimes includes important disclaimers, such as a comment saying the author and publisher are not liable for misinformation that might be included or for any information left out. If you find you have many disclaimers or a long legal explanation, you should put that on a different Disclaimer page.
  3. Next will be your Table of Contents, but the odds are that you will need to design and insert that after you have completed writing your manual, so for now, keep in mind that it should be written and designed here.
  4. The first page you will presumably want in your manual’s body is an Introduction, where you’ll describe the goals and purposes of the booklet. 
  5. Now you’re ready to write your manual main content, with all the topics or procedures your readers need to know. After you’ve written all your subjects, you may want to end with a Summary or Conclusion page and maybe include an Index to help readers find topics of interest.
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Does that sound like too much effort?

Remember that you don’t need to begin with a blank word document to do all this. Using one of the many pre-designed kits can help remarkably. The templates in a kit can give you a big jump start while creating your manual and helping you at each step along the way.

Any manual is likely to be read by a broad audience, so you want to be sure that the spelling and grammar are perfect. It’s always best to employ an editor if you can, but if that’s expensive, then pick someone who is not familiar with your booklet’s content to proofread and help you improve it. Testing is an indispensable component of concluding any “how-to” booklet, too. You want to be sure that your directions are complete, useful, and clear for your intended readers. You might also need to get the permission of your company’s legal department before publication, too–corporate attorneys and staff departments are often concerned about trademarks, employment issues, and all sorts of consumer information that may cause legal problems in the future.

Your final manual can easily be bound, printed, or transformed into a PDF file to send via email or read on one of the many electronic devices. You can even utilize different tools available on the Internet to turn your masterpiece into an e-book for use with Kindle or other devices.

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