Re: guide vs manual

Subject: Re: guide vs manual
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
To: saradha -dot- krishnamurty -at- gmail -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2007 13:26:50 +0900

Hi Saradha -
> Is there a difference between a User Guide and a User Manual.

I don't think there's a definitive answer as to what can and can't be in a user guide and what can and can't be in a user manual. Generally I might expect a Guide to explain concepts and describe procedures, and a Manual to contain reference information, but I probably wouldn't notice if I came across a Reference Guide or a Concepts and Procedures Manual. I think it also depends on the industry--users of a government web site, a defence application and a mobile phone probably have different expectations of what is meant by the words 'guide' and 'manual'.

You can avoid the problem by calling the book "Using <product>" rather than "<product> User Guide" or "<product> User Manual".

So if you're writing the documentation for a product called XYZ, any of these would work:
XYZ Guide and Reference
XYZ User Manual
XYZ User Guide
Using XYZ
Installing XYZ
XYZ Installation Guide

'Manual' seems to work better as a collective noun. "Have you seen the XYZ manuals?" sounds more natural to me than "Have you seen the XYZ guides?".



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