ClickHelp Software Documentation Glossary

What is User Manual?

Another name for User Guide.

A user manual is a type of technical documentation that helps people use, maintain, and fix this or that product. A product can be a tool, mechanism, device, app, etc. The main goal is to do it safely and efficiently. But there can be secondary goals as well: meeting legal requirements or creating a great user experience, for example. In other words, a user manual educates readers on a product. A comprehensive user manual consists of both text and visuals (graphics, tables, illustrations, etc.), procedures (detailed instructions) and concepts. A user manual is written for all kinds of users. Not only beginners read it, experienced users sometimes need to refresh their knowledge and look up some relevant information.

A user manual usually contains the following information: product name, type, features, elements, safety warnings, installation, maintenance, repair information, glossary. This type of technical documentation can be both as long as a book and only several pages long. Today, user manuals can be of different formats: printed and online. The latter is becoming more and more popular.

Here are some tips on how to write a user manual:

  • Define your goal. When you know what you want to tell users, you are ready to represent the information in the form of step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow.
  • Define your reader. When you know whom you are writing for, you know how to write.
  • Use clear language. Do not use technical jargon for non-technical audiences.
  • Use visuals (pictures, screenshots, diagrams, illustrations, etc.). They make information more comprehensive.
  • Make sure your online user manual is easy to find. It matters a lot if you want to increase the number of readers.

To create user manuals, technical writers use a help authoring tool. It is a piece of software that enables technical writers to easily write and publish documentation, collaborate, keep track of progress, etc.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Learn more