ClickHelp Software Documentation Glossary: Definitions of Main Terms, Concepts

What is a Manual?

Manual – is a specific type of training documentation that performs as step-by-step instruction for using a particular product. To be more specific, manuals give a detailed explanation about the product’s functionality and techniques of using it properly.

Any business side from the product manager and software developer to an end-user demands knowledge of using any device (digital or non-digital) or creating it. One of the most important and widespread ways to provide that knowledge is to work with manuals. Now, we shall look at their main purpose and features of manuals’ creation, necessary for their proper functioning.

The Main Purpose of Manuals

As it was mentioned, manuals perform as part of training documentation. Hence, their primary purpose is to explain basic “education” of working with any product, no matter if it’s furniture, household appliances or computer programs or entire software. So, in other words, the manual is a user guide that is oblique for interaction with the product.

Main Features of Manuals

As manuals are created as instructions for the people who are not familiar with a subject or the product, they obtain particular points that help them to deliver information most effectively.

  • Choice of the audience – performs as one of the most important parts of any manual’s creation. The choice of the audience influences the entire body of the manual. It performs as the main factor of instruction’s differentiation, as manuals for software developers are written in an absolutely different language and with different subjects as they are written for common users.
  • Objective definition – also a very important part of working on the manual, as it defines the information that should be covered and its amount. The defining of objection allows to avoid too extensive amounts of information which may confuse the manual’s users;
  • Agreement with the context – not so critical as two first features but also significant in particular situations. Agreement with the context is needed for providing a better understanding of the subject according to the circumstances a person lives in and works with.
  • Gathering of the content – an oblique part of any manual’s creation as it obtains the body of it and the entire information needed.
  • Proper design – a part that is responsible for the visual side of the manual. Combines all the information structuring features that help make the content look friendlier.
  • Logical structure – describes the way of narration. In more complicated words, it provides a proper way of providing information by dividing the content into parts and standing them in a specific order where all the elements cooperate while giving instructions step-by-step.
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