Re: Hybrid document: user guide & training workbook

Subject: Re: Hybrid document: user guide & training workbook
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 15:35:50 -0600


I have great trouble in imagining how a training manual can substitute
for a user manual in the fashion you suggest--except possibly
regarding the more common procedures. Training courses should
introduce users to these procedures and get them comfortable in
finding the answers to those things they will forget the first "X"
number of times they try to do them.

Usually, these answers are in a reference manual or in the online help
system. To me, though, trying to incorporate the same features from
one medium into another (such as slide copies in manuals) does a poor
job on both fronts. If the same source material exactly is
incorporated into the training course, either the course will be
inadequate or entirely too detailed to work well. Correspondingly, if
the online help contains everything, then you don't really need the
manual--unless the manual is constructed to give substantially
different avenues of access to finding answers than the online help so
that various individuals with differing learning styles can more
easily choose which they prefer to arrive at the answers they need.

Next, a great differentiating factor is what sort of "user manual" you
are doing. To me, a comprehensive approach should include both a
reference work and a procedures work--whether in the same publication
or available separately. If I'm seeking an individual value to fill in
somewhere, I do NOT want to dig through a procedures manual to find
it; when I am learning a new procedure, I also don't want to go
through the usual "The File menu contains these commands"--I can
already see that!

Personally, I would prefer to determine what needs to be documented
about an application or a product; what the most common problems users
have may be; and what features of each delivery method are best suited
to communicate the information. The training course I would do last,
as a condensed version of only the most significant things the user
should know or do, with keys into the parts of either the manual or
help system that explain things in more detail.

A "training workbook" that gives more information than the training
presentation itself still will generally contain far less than a
comprehensive manual would--at least in any application of size. The
workbook is keyed to the topics discussed in the training, and again
should have references to the more extensive documentation for further

That said, you can easily include the exercises from the training
workbook in a comprehensive manual.

>From what you are saying, it seems your management is after physical,
printed books for at least part of all this. When an individual uses a
"training workbook" the idea is that they make notes they can refer to
later. Thus, it should be available separately from the product so
that successive users can each have their own workbook. Of course,
that might also be done through .pdf files, so the client companies
can print their own workbook materials as needed. Another strategy is
to make the docs available through a demand publisher, to be printed
as the clients order them.




RoboHelp X5 is a giant leap forward in Help authoring technology, featuring all new Word 2003 support, Content Management, Multi-Author support, PDF and XML support and much more! View an online demo:

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- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Hybrid document: user guide & training workbook: From: Catherine Dexter

Previous by Author: Re: Sequence of academic degrees after a name--any standards?
Next by Author: Re: Placement of FAQ's
Previous by Thread: Hybrid document: user guide & training workbook
Next by Thread: RE: Hybrid document: user guide & training workbook

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

Sponsored Ads