Weblinks for Writing Guidebooks and Manuals

Online Technical Writing: Instructions covers a lot of information quickly and then links to in-depth discussions on such things as audience, task analysis, and special notices. The in-depth discussions are just that and they contain multiple examples.

Travel Guidebook Writing by Tom Brosnahan, a published author of multiple travel guidebooks. It includes discussions of getting started, contracts, and what it’s like on the road.

Writing Revisable Manuals: A Guidebook for Business and Government has a list of chapter titles in the left sidebar. These include “About Readers and Manuals,” “Page and Screen Design,” and “Writing Style.” The first in the list is “What this Guidebook Contains.” It gives the chapter titles and a one sentence description of what is in there. The most useful chapter, after the first, seems to be “Methods of Presentation,” which lists and gives examples of different ways of presenting information, such as the expected bullets and more esoteric offerings like playscripts or warnings.

Keys to Writing a Human Resources Manual would have been very useful for whoever wrote this employee manual. The pages load a little slowly and the site seems to take you through extra steps, but once you get there, the information is useful. Their example is for sale for only $19.95. (How about free?)

How to Write an Employee Manual for restaurant managers is fairly short and simple to read. The short is good, but it also means there is little discussion on any topic. It has four sections: Why you need a manual, How to write your manual quickly and easily, What your manual should say, and Employing your manual. (They did not pay attention to parallelism.) Each section has a bulleted list underneath it, so it is quick and easy to read. There are examples given.

Apparently an employee manual is the most common type because there are many more links than those I wrote.

How to Publish a Great User Manual has some good things in it. Right away, though, they use acronyms without explanation. However, if you keep reading, there is good information. For instance, “Explain the Problem Being Solved” says that many manuals just translate the language from engineeringese into a human language and do not attempt to explain why it is good to have this or that feature. I think that is very true, though many manuals fail in the translation portion as well.

How to Write an Effective Manual has five short points. The first tells you to hire a technical writing person. (That’s good for when you graduate and want a job as a technical writer, but not so much just now.) Number 3 is useful, though. “The manual should be activity centered.” It includes a discussion of what that means.

Samples:
Walden U’s guidebook and template for writing proposals, abstracts, theses, and dissertations. They are very detailed. Good example of writing, even if not a discussion of the process.

A Guidebook for the Assessment of Children’s Narratives

Sample proposal for writing a guidebook on how to change a tire

Manual on how to write for philosophy class identifies itself as the long version. It is written in paragraphs, but includes humor.

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