We get a fair number of inquiries for operator’s manuals for different types of equipment. And while they vary in scope and complexity, all operator’s manuals have some things in common. When a customer contacts Allard asking for help writing technical manuals - specifically operator’s manuals, the first question I ask is “Who is the audience?”
Sometimes it is a technical person who has been trained on the equipment. Sometimes, as in the case of a consumer product, it could be anyone who buys the equipment. Sometimes it’s not exactly clear. But knowing who the customer envisions as needing the information in the operator’s manual helps us understand what content needs to be included, how explicit the instructions need to be, and what supporting information we need to include in the operator’s manual – for instance a parts diagram or a troubleshooting guide.
A typical operator’s manual will include the following items (and sometimes much, much more):
Warranty information and warranty registration card
Customer support contacts
Controls and indicators
Maintenance schedule and instructions
Optional items or accessories available
Many times, one of the primary objectives of an operator’s manual is to provide the end user with answers to questions so that they don’t have to contact customer support. Having a clearly written, well illustrated manual can reduce your customer support calls and make your customers happy.