User's manuals vs. user's guide?

Subject: User's manuals vs. user's guide?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 08:23:09 -0400

Sylvia Braunstein wonders: <<Can someone explain to me the difference
between User's Manuals and User's Guide>>

The last word in the name. <g> Seriously? There's absolutely no difference.
I suppose one might make a case for the former one being more distancing,
since it isn't helping to "guide" the user, but I seriously doubt anyone but
us writers would notice the difference. Maybe not even us. For example, when
I look for help in the docs, I never read the title: I just grab the biggest
book in the box and make a beeline for the index. So I don't think it much
matters what you call the documentation, so long as the name's not too outre
and so long as the choice of name doesn't bias your approach to meeting the
reader's needs.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words;
on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them
unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."-- James D. Nicoll


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