How To Write Better Instruction Manuals

How To Write Better Instruction Manuals



If you know how to​ do something -- and can do it​ well, almost without thinking -- it​ makes sense that you’d want to​ share this information. What better way to​ do it​ than with an​ instruction manual. Writing an​ instruction manual may seem complicated and overwhelming, but it​ is​ easier than you think. The following tips will instruct you what to​ do and how to​ do it.

OUTLINE YOUR TOPIC

Before you can teach someone how to​ do something successfully, you need to​ conceptualize which aspects of​ the project they need to​ know. if​ your topic is​ complicated, such as​ how to​ play the piano, list each chapter and outline the points you need to​ make. if​ it’s simpler, such as​ the task of​ changing a​ tire, briefly jot down all the steps that come to​ mind. Don’t worry about the details or​ if​ you list the steps out of​ order; we will fix these things later.

START WITH THE SUPPLIES

The most logical way to​ start an​ instruction manual is​ to​ list the supplies the reader will need for the project. Be as​ exhaustive with this as​ possible; your students will thank you. if​ any of​ the supplies are expensive or​ difficult to​ find, list alternatives or​ stores that carry the item.

MOVE STEP BY STEP

Instead of​ explaining the task in​ long paragraphs, break your instruction manual into specific, detailed steps. Give as​ much direction as​ possible; if​ one step requires slightly different tasks, create sub-steps. Think of​ these as​ an​ outline; number or​ letter the steps accordingly (and logically).

DO THE PROJECT

If your instruction manual details a​ tangible project, then complete it​ using only your written guide. Don’t improvise and don’t go on your prior knowledge. if​ it’s difficult for you to​ do this (subjectivity is​ sometimes next to​ impossible to​ ignore), ask a​ friend to​ use your manual to​ complete the project. Look carefully at​ the finished product; did it​ turn out as​ you’d envisioned? Did you miss something important? Continue to​ revise and describe until your written words encompass every step in​ the most detailed and effective way possible.

KEEP it​ SIMPLE

Writing an​ instruction manual is​ different from writing literary fiction; creative wordiness isn’t important here -- it’s clarity you’re after. Use short sentences and simple words. Make sure your manual is​ clear and readable; if​ the reader can’t understand what you’re saying, they won’t be able to​ complete your project.




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