Re: Minimal Contents of a Operation/User Manual

Subject: Re: Minimal Contents of a Operation/User Manual
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004 06:20:52 -0400

I would add that, in addition to the functional operations of the device (how do I make it do what it is designed to do), the manual should, depending on the type of machine and the context, also contain basic information on safe operation (cautions and warnings about what _not_ to do and what _must_ be done), routine maintenance (if it's the operator's responsibility), troubleshooting, and repair (if the operator needs to know this information). Some of this information might be more appropriate for one or more separate documents, rather than the operations manual; but if only the one document is called for in the contract, then it should all be included.

As for legal requirements, the European Union has built up quite a body of regulations on the required contents of an operator's manual for machines sold in the EU. The US has not done so, as far as I'm aware; but it would not be unreasonable to point to the EU standard as a reasonable expectation of a sophisticated customer.

Jeanne A. E. DeVoto wrote:

I'd say that an adequate user manual contains enough information to allow the intended user to use the functions of the device. (The distinction between "adequate" and "superior", for me, has to do with how the material is organized and whether it's presented in a form that's easily absorbed and used.) So I would ask three questions to determine whether a given user manual is adequate:

1. Who is the intended user? That is, what skills and knowledge is the user expected to bring to the task? (A user manual intended for a skilled machinist will necessarily be different from one intended for an unskilled novice, for example. If you can assume the user has certain skills and knowledge already, you won't need to explain certain things.)

2. What are the functions of the device?

3. Does the manual adequately explain, to the target user, how to use those functions? If not, I would say it's not adequate.


ROBOHELP X5: Featuring Word 2003 support, Content Management, Multi-Author
support, PDF and XML support and much more!

COMPONENTONE DOC-TO-HELP 7 PROFESSIONAL: From a single set of Word documents, create online Help and printed documentation. New version offers yearly subscription service, Natural Search, Modular TOC Utility, Image Map Editor, Theme Designer, Context String Editor, plus more. .

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archiver -at- techwr-l -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Re: Minimal Contents of a Operation/User Manual: From: Jeanne A. E. DeVoto

Previous by Author: Re: Victoria Manual
Next by Author: Re: Longhorn - Tech writing changes
Previous by Thread: Re: Minimal Contents of a Operation/User Manual
Next by Thread: FrameMaker 7 with Wine?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads