instruction manuals

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instruction manuals
AUDIENCE AND PURPOSE
Instructions help the reader perform a task.
novice:
first-time user
experienced:
has performed
a similar task
WHAT AUDIENCES WANT TO KNOW
•
Why am I doing this?
•
How do I do it?
•
What material or equipment do
I need?
•
Where do I begin?
•
What do I do next?
•
What could go wrong?
EFFECTIVE AND EXCELLENT INSTRUCTIONS
•
Clear and limiting title
•
Informed content
•
Visuals
•
Appropriate level of detail and
technicality
•
Logically ordered steps
•
Notes and hazard notices
•
Readability
•
Effective design
NOTICES
• note – clarifies a point, emphasizes vital information, or
describes options or alternatives
• caution – prevents possible mistakes that could result in injury or
equipment damage
• warning – alerts users to potential hazards to life or limb
• danger – identifies an immediate hazard to life or limb
LEGAL ISSUES
• failure to instruct and caution users in the proper use of a
product
• failure to warn against hazards from proper use
• failure to warn against the possible misuses
• failure to explain a product’s benefits and risks in language
that average consumers can understand
• failure to convey the extent of risk with forceful language
• failure to display warnings prominently
“Courts have ruled that a writing defect in product support
literature carries the same type of liability as a design or
manufacturing defect in the product itself.”
(Lannon 487, from Girill “Technical Communication and the Law” 37)

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