What makes A GREAT product manual?

Hey Cats,

As a consumer of so many diverse products something we never really stop to think about is the product manuals themselves. Like just imagine where you would be with building that bookshelf sans instructions or getting to know that new bit of tech without any kind of knowledge of even how to turn it on. So I got to thinking about the importance of manuals and the work that goes into creating an understandable piece of information for us the consumer. Here are a few must haves in my opinion.


The manual itself has to be clear from the font to the instruction. Many people do not realise the importance of a decent font in any kind of directive writing. When reading a manual the user is already confused and looking for direction therefore being able to pick up the writing quickly and clearly is vital.. Keeping sentences to the point and with great direction is also important as manuals are often read in a rush as users we are so excited to try a product we want to be able to use it fast and skip the learning process.

Being able to convey a lot of information in a short space is really useful as well as using basic language so many different abilities are able to understand the context of the directions. Spacing out the wording can also help with allowing users to speed read the information, bullet points can often be handy or even numbering each step. This can also help if the user has to pick up and put down the manual several times.


Visual manuals are also a great way to aid the consumer in using the product manual. Diagrams and pictures with a clear labelled system are more important than you may realise. For example when being told to bleed a radiator you may read an accurate description of how to do so. However if there is a picture and visuals of the tools to use and how to carry out the task at hand then it will take even less time as sometimes it is easy to miss what is right in front of you. With some products it is even more important to get this on point so not to damage the item or even worse come to any harm yourself. 


English is not the first language for everyone and in reality products are marketed all over the world. If the first two steps are followed correctly then multilingual manuals can easily be created. Interactive user manuals in many languages mean you open up a diverse audience and opens up a bigger market for your goods. In mist cases where possible it is great if the country you are marketing to is first on the manual but this can become costly in adapting the manual so many times. This can also be done through having an English manual but then creating a website where other languages can be downloaded. There is nothing worse than getting a product and having no idea how to use it because the instructions are in a different language.

What do you think makes a great product manual?



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