Manuals that Works

We all have them.

  • Manuals.
  • Protocols,
  • Procedures,
  • Maintenance schedules,
  • Guidelines
  • Training manuals         …   and so on.

But how do you write something which can easily be accessed and used? These documents have to be easily accessed and understood so they can be acted upon.

A document in a file does little until someone reads it and does it. And for that to happen the document must be helpful, easy to use and clearly understandable.

As a member of a task force implementing an integrated site-wide planning procedure, Christine was given the task of writing the procedure manual. This was a single document used by everyone from directors drafting the next five years direction for the company through to the production staff setting up the daily production runs. Along the way the correct parts had to be identified, ordered, and delivered to the shop floor in time. Specific customer orders had to be completed and everyone had to pull together.

It was important for each function to be clearly able to access the materials relevant to them, but also to understand how their work and accuracy affected others.

So a good manual is one which is clearly indexed and easy to find your way around it. The quicker someone can access what they need and leave the document the better.  You will not find many people starting at page 1 and reading it through unless they suffer from insomnia!

It is crucial that the writing is clear, precise and not open to different meanings. Jargon has to be used carefully if at all because no one reads a manual to be impressed by the poetic language.

People will refer to the document to gain direction, to know …

  • what to do
  • when
  • the required processes and standards
  • and how it contributes to the team effort.






Published by

Christine Hough

Christine Hough From a wild childhood in the forests of Northern Argentina to a varied career spanning multinational companies and micro-businesses, Christine has written financial documents; training documents; press releases; promotional materials including exhibition design adverts and flyers; website copy; auto-responder email content; and bid applications. * Graduated in Engineering and Management (Durham University) * Post graduate course in Production management at Cambridge University * Worked in multinational companies writing technical reports and financial justification. Implemented company wide planning system including writing manuals and training staff. * Supported music school by writing promotional materials, press releases and bid applications (all successful!) * Run own businesses both online and offline * Applied successfully for grants * Written a book *Prize winning author

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