• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Chapter 9. Solving Problems Through Poli... > Guidelines for Producing a Functiona...

Guidelines for Producing a Functional Manual

Besides adhering to the principle that the content of manuals should be descriptive, not procedural or policy-oriented, the biggest job in putting together a manual is document design. There are many aspects to document design, but they all converge in a single purpose: to make the manual functional. Document design is an issue with all types of professional documents, and we devote Chapter 12 to it, but we introduce it here in connection with manuals because the task of making a manual readable is a challenge.

Formatting

One important aspect of document design that is usually considered important for the wrong reasons is formatting. Formatting is important because it sets up a consistent structure for the manual, a structure that readers can predict. Formatting is not so important simply for aesthetics or image. A system of headers, footers, and other internal identifiers must be consistent, in order to signal the reader appropriately. Manuals contain the largest accumulations of prose in a work environment, yet must somehow make their information accessible. Formatting consistently makes this access possible, because it sets up expectations in the reader. When these expectations are fulfilled, the reading goes faster, with greater comprehension. This business of predictability is very important to encourage in readers, since many studies has correlated the ability to predict text with a high level of comprehension.


PREVIEW

                                                                          

Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial


  
  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint