Welcome to Writing Revisable Manuals – A Guidebook for Business and Government. I have written this guidebook to help you and your organization prepare high-quality print and online manuals, quickly and inexpensively. There is a saying in technical writing that “You can have it good, you can have it fast, or you can have it cheap. But you can’t have all three.” The goal of this guidebook is to show you how to have all three.
Since many organizations want both print and online versions of their manuals, and since many of the steps and concerns are the same, I’ve taken an integrated approach in writing—I’ve discussed both types of manuals simultaneously.
Focusing on revisable manuals—the kind you can update easily—the guidebook takes you step by step through all the activities of planning, writing, and producing manuals. If you are working on a manual for your organization, or will be in the near future, this guidebook is for you. You don’t need to be the subject matter expert to write a manual—in fact, it’s probably better if you’re not. Just follow the steps outlined here and you’ll produce an effective manual that you and your organization will be proud of.
The guidebook covers all types of revisable manuals, including policy and procedure manuals, computer end-user manuals, training manuals, and equipment operating manuals. While the contents of these manuals are different, the process of developing them is the same. The process outlined in this guidebook is the same one used today by most professional manual writers.
Use the table of contents at left to navigate through the different sections of the manual, or use the Index to view all of the manual sections in alphabetical order. Above are links to a Writing Styleguide, Dictionary of Plain English, Feedback page, Glossary, and alphabetical Index.