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6   Methods of Presentation

Notes, Cautions, and Warnings


Instead of underlining or bolding, use notes to emphasize important information by visually distinguishing it from the rest of the text. Notes can contain any type of information except safety information, which must always be placed in cautions or warnings. Notes can be preceded by an icon such as a raised hand.

Note: In all types of manuals, notes point out something of special interest or importance to the reader. Failure to read the note will not result in physical harm to the reader, equipment, or data.


Cautions draw special attention to anything that could damage equipment or cause the loss of data. Describe what could happen if the caution is ignored. Always place the caution before the step it applies to. Use an ‘attention’ icon beside a caution.

Caution: Do not turn the monitor off by unplugging it from the computer or wall socket. Severe damage to the monitor may result. Turn the monitor off before unplugging it.

Never refer the reader elsewhere to see the caution message—repeat it wherever it applies.


Warnings draw special attention to anything that could injure or kill the reader. Like cautions, they are always placed before the step in the procedure they relate to, and are used with the attention icon.

WARNING: Unplug the computer before removing the outer case. If you don’t, severe electrical shock may result.

Never refer the reader elsewhere to see the warning message—repeat the message wherever it applies.