Training Manuals: Uses, Features, and Writing Process

Training manual uses

Training manuals are used for job training and reference, for how-to courses, for operation manuals or user guides, and more. Readers may be expected to read through them, to look up specific information in them, or to use them as part of a training program. They need to be able to find, understand, and apply the information in the manual.

Training manual features

Chances are, you've started a new job or training session and been handed a training manual. If you were fortunate, you had a training manual with these features:

  • It was attractive to look at and inviting to read.
  • The content was well organized and led you step by step through tasks.
  • It included navigational aids, such as a table of contents and references to relevant sections.
  • The writing style was accessible and concise.
  • The use of visual aids such as flow charts, screenshots, and sidebars enhanced learning.

Training manual writing process

Good training manuals take a lot of time to prepare. The work that goes into a good training manual is time saved when users are able to find and apply information themselves. It's also time saved when people make fewer mistakes because they found what they needed to know in the manual.

The first step in writing a training manual is gathering and organizing the information. I'll work closely with you at this stage. After I've written the first draft, I'll ask for your feedback. The feedback of someone who doesn't know anything about what's in the manual is also useful at this stage. Together we'll find out what's clear, what needs to be clearer, and what's missing. We'll go back and forth until we have a manual that's clear, informative, and easy to use.

I'll also include instructions on how to update the manual if you want to update it yourself in the future. Or you can send it back to me for updates.

Alternatively, you can write the first draft of the manual and then pass it on to me. I'll be the reader with no knowledge of the subject matter, which will help me find any information gaps. Once we have all the necessary information, I'll edit it. I'll be looking at organization, navigation, clarity, conciseness, and overall appearance, including visual aids. Words and design go together.

Do you have a project you'd like to discuss? Contact me.