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Donald Norman's guidelines on writing manuals

"Is a manual important? Yes, but even more important is a well-designed product, one so well conceived and constructed that either the manual is not needed at all, or if it is, where the manual can be short, simple, and easy to understand and then to remember."

Norman suggests the following rules to accomplish this:
- Use excellent technical writers
- Make the writers part of the design team
- Let people get right to work with minimum reading by using short and simple explanations with illustrations
- Test the manual with people from the intended user community
- Get rid of the lawyers (or at the least, put their required warnings in a seperate appendix)

Links:

  • How To Write an Effective Manual Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - January 03, 2006

See also: Help (3)  Text (24) 

 

COMMENTS

I would add

After the manual is issued:

Keep a history file of change notices.
Make revisions as necessary from change notices.
Keep a master change log for the manual.
Reissue the manual with a revision state indicator, e.g., Rev. 1.
Collect old manuals.

Sean Fraser | January 04, 2006

 

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