Re: Getting Started guides

Subject: Re: Getting Started guides
From: "Burns, Nancy" <nburns -at- BREAULT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 16:14:50 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: Lynette Petendree <Lynette_Petendree -at- INSTINET -dot- COM>
Date: Wednesday, February 03, 1999 7:25 AM

A friend of mine has been moved writing Getting Started guides and
tutorials (in the Marketing group). I ...was hoping that some of you can
recommend books, examples, websites etc., that she could refer to. ...
Here's a brief description of Getting Started manuals, based on my own
experience. There are likely lots of other topics to include that I have not
mentioned. I also added a statement about Reference Manuals:

Getting Started manuals are generally brief (pamphlet size) and typically
include information for users that they will need BEFORE installing the
program. Topics might include contents of the shipment, installation
instructions, hardware requirements, overview of the program's purpose and
philosophy (not instructions on how to use it), an introductory tutorial,
resources (such as online Help, Customer Service, contact information),
other related company products. As another poster mentioned, consider this
manual a marketing tool.

By contrast, User Guides are instructional. They walk users through a task
or operation by describing what to do in the actual screens or dialog boxes
via screen shots and step-by-step instructions. They also might define all
the menu items, toolbars, and error messages.

For command-oriented applications, Reference Guides alphabetically list all
the commands. Command topics usually include a brief definition of their
purpose, command syntax, options, and remarks.

It's not easy finding samples of these manuals since most companies consider
their documentation proprietary information. STC (Society for Technical
Communication) offers annual competitions around the country, and sometimes
the winning submissions can be viewed at chapter meetings.

Technical communication books on how to write user documentation may be a
good source. Try doing a search at or to
titles. Visit

Nancy Burns
nburns -at- breault -dot- com

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