User guide

A user guide or user's guide, also commonly known as a manual, is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system.[1] It is usually written by a technical writer, although user guides are written by programmers, product or project managers, or other technical staff, particularly in smaller companies.

User guides are most commonly associated with electronic goods, computer hardware and software.

Most user guides contain both a written guide and the associated images. In the case of computer applications, it is usual to include screenshots of the human-machine interface(s), and hardware manuals often include clear, simplified diagrams. The language used is matched to the intended audience, with jargon kept to a minimum or explained thoroughly.

Contents

Contents of a user manual

The sections of a user manual often include:

  • A cover page
  • A title page and copyright page
  • A preface, containing details of related documents and information on how to navigate the user guide
  • A contents page
  • A guide on how to use at least the main functions of the system
  • A troubleshooting section detailing possible errors or problems that may occur, along with how to fix them
  • A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Where to find further help, and contact details
  • A glossary and, for larger documents, an index

Computer software manuals and guides

User manuals and user guides for most non-trivial software applications are book-like documents with contents similar to the above list. The Starta User Manual[2] is a good example of this type of document. Some documents have a more fluid structure with many internal links. The Google Earth User Guide[3] is an example of this format. The term guide is often applied to a document that addresses a specific aspect of a software product. Some usages are Installation Guide, Getting Started Guide, and various How to guides. An example is the Picasa Getting Started Guide.[4]

In some business software applications, where groups of users have access to only a sub-set of the application's full functionality, a user guide may be prepared for each group. An example of this approach is the Autodesk Topobase 2010 Help[5] document, which contains separate Administrator Guides, User Guides, and a Developer's Guide. These guides are a valuable tool for On-the-job training.

References

See also


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • user guide — UK US noun [countable] [singular user guide plural user guides] a document that tells you how to do something, for example how to use a computer program Thesaurus: computer files and documents and collections of computer data …   Useful english dictionary

  • user guide — user ,guide noun count a document that tells you how to do something, for example how to use a computer program …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • user guide — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms user guide : singular user guide plural user guides a document that tells you how to do something, for example how to use a computer program …   English dictionary

  • user guide — vartotojo žinynas statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. user directory; user guide; user manual vok. Bedienungsanleitung, f; Benutzerauskunftsdatei, f; Benutzerhandbuch, n rus. руководство пользователя, n; справочник пользователя, m… …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • user guide — vartotojo instrukcija statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. user guide; user manual vok. Benutzeranleitung, f; Benutzerhandbuch, n rus. руководство для пользователя, n pranc. notice de présentation, f …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • guide de l'utilisateur — vartotojo žinynas statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. user directory; user guide; user manual vok. Bedienungsanleitung, f; Benutzerauskunftsdatei, f; Benutzerhandbuch, n rus. руководство пользователя, n; справочник пользователя, m… …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • user directory — vartotojo žinynas statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. user directory; user guide; user manual vok. Bedienungsanleitung, f; Benutzerauskunftsdatei, f; Benutzerhandbuch, n rus. руководство пользователя, n; справочник пользователя, m… …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • user manual — vartotojo žinynas statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. user directory; user guide; user manual vok. Bedienungsanleitung, f; Benutzerauskunftsdatei, f; Benutzerhandbuch, n rus. руководство пользователя, n; справочник пользователя, m… …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • guide — guide1 W2S2 [gaıd] n ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(for deciding/judging)¦ 2¦(person)¦ 3¦(instructions)¦ 4¦(girl)¦ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ [Date: 1300 1400; : French; Origin: Old Provençal guida] 1.) ¦(FOR DECIDING/JUDGING)¦ somethin …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • guide — 1. noun /ɡaɪd/ a) Someone who guides, especially someone hired to show people around a place or an institution and offer information and explanation. b) A document or book that offers information or instruction; guidebook …   Wiktionary

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