RE: Getting rid of the manual

Subject: RE: Getting rid of the manual
From: "Jones, Donna" <DJones -at- zebra -dot- com>
To: "List,Techwriter" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 12:11:00 -0500

Our company stopped printing manuals a couple/few years ago. We put the
guides as PDFs on a User CD instead and make them available via the web,
too. For the first year or more, we kept the printed manuals available
through print-on-demand. Guess what? No one other than people within our
own company ever ordered one. We discontinued print-on-demand and
haven't heard a peep in complaint. We do get occasional feedback about
the electronic manuals, so I know that at least a few people read them.

I would absolutely hate it if a product that I used had information
available only as help files. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to
find information that's hidden in little electronic pieces. If I want to
read all about the product or browse through topics, I don't want to
have to print every single help screen or chain myself to my computer to
read it. Even if I have to print a manual (or parts of it) myself from
PDF, that's better than not having one at all.

Rather than "instead of a manual," why don't you provide the better help
files "in addition to a manual"? If you set things up correctly, you can
generate both from the same source files. And as I pointed out, you can
easily deliver your manuals electronically to eliminate the cost and
hassle of printing them.


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Getting rid of the manual: From: David Loveless

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