Twenty-five years ago, how many people were thinking about the internet on a daily basis? Now you can find everything, including technical and instruction manuals, online. But some things never change. Users still need instructions and warnings to guide them in the safe and proper use of products. Good design, clear instructions and warnings, placement of graphics, all the traditional elements hold true whether designing for print or online materials. And technical writers still need those two most valuable commodities—time and information—to do their jobs well. Another constant, Writing and Designing Manuals and Warnings, now in its fourth edition, offers real-world guidance based on real-world know-how for the development of product documentation.
See What’s New in the Fourth Edition:
- New organization to clarify the principles of manual and warning development
- Coverage of the digital revolution and the global marketplace
- Expanded section on product safety and warnings
- Information on international standards for warnings
Backed by Research and Collective Experience
Drawn from the collective experience of hundreds of technical writers, graphic artists, and product safety engineers, along with the author’s nearly 30 years of experience helping companies improve instructions and warnings, this how-to book covers every aspect of developing state-of-the-art product manuals and safety warnings. Filled with examples that show how good manuals and effective warnings can add value to your company’s products and build repeat business, while at the same time reducing liability exposure, the text demonstrates how to create manuals that give products a competitive edge and improve customer satisfaction. Solidly grounded in research, but not a stuffy academic treatise, this down-to-earth, practical book is a survival guide for writers in the real world of short deadlines and tight budgets.
Table of Contents
Who Needs a Manual?
Why All These Manuals?
Who Reads a Manual?
Is Anybody Out There?
What Do They Want?
How Do They Use Manuals? Designing for Content and Context
Checklist: Knowing Your User
What’s In and What’s Out
Content and Organization
Focus on the Need-to-Know
Cookbooks, Not Novels
Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?
Writing Strategies That Work
How Do I Find…?
Checklist: Content and Organization
What You See Is What You Read…Or Not
Make the Manual Look Easy to Read
Headings: A Map for Your Reader
Other Signposts for Your Reader
Paving the Road for Your Readers
Making the Manual Physically Easy to Use
Checklist: Make It Easy for Your Readers
A Picture Is Worth…It Depends
When to Use Graphics
What Kind of Graphics Should I Use?
Making Graphics Work
Integrating Graphics and Text
Checklist: Effective Graphic Design
Thinking Outside the Books
Putting It on the Internet
Instructional Videos and DVDs
Picture This: The No-Words Manual
Is One Enough? When You Need Multiple Manuals
Installation, Service, and Maintenance Manuals
Manuals for Custom Machinery
Checklist: Alternatives and Specialty Manuals
Who Writes a Manual?
Technical Writers—Rodney Dangerfield No More
Writing Manuals Is a Team Sport
Playing Well with Others: Marketing, Legal, Design, Manufacturing
How Well Can You Juggle? Managing Documentation Projects
Checklist: Writers and Documentation Projects
Manuals in the Global Marketplace
The Challenge of a Global Economy
The User Spectrum Expands…Again
International Regulations and Standards
Checklist: Manuals for Global Markets
Product Safety and Liability Prevention
Products Liability Law: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Warnings—They’re Not All Wacky (But Some Sure Are!)
Hazard Analysis: The First Step in Product Safety
Responding to Hazards
Other Safety Resources
Managing the Postsale Duty to Warn
Checklist: Managing Product Safety
Warnings That Work
What Should a Warning Do?
The Anatomy of a Warning Label
Testing Your Warnings
Checklist: Make Your Warnings Work
Integrated Product Safety
Designing Safety into the Product
Delivering a Consistent Safety Message
Product Safety in the Real World: Case Study
Checklist: Integrating Product Safety