In the fields of Technical Communication, knowledge of various types of documents is essential. Understanding the basic concepts of what these documents are and what purpose they serve gives Technical Writers a good insight on writing one such document. A brief overview of the types of documents is listed below.
User manuals / User guides
User manuals / User guide tells the user how to use the product. They are written based on varied audience analysis whose (user) expertise varies. It is best suggested that while dealing with Products, it is best that a detailed manual and a quick reference guide is provided for a novice user and an advanced user.
Quick Reference Guides
A Quick reference guide contains basic instructions on how to use the product and is mostly in the form of a booklet to facilitate advanced users with information to perform basic tasks. Quick reference guides mostly contain shortcuts and very short instructions to perform a task quickly. These guides do not replace the user manuals / User guides but are often provided in addition to the user manuals / user guides.
Computer-based training (CBT) involves the use of computers to educate and provide training to individuals at their workplace or home. The process of writing content that would educate individuals using CBT is also defined as web based training. Writing custom training modules based on course / subject, which is delivered through a web browser in specified format, is considered as a Computer-based training.
An Installation manual is very much similar to user manuals / user guides. These guides help the user with the installation of the product or equipment. These guides are mostly used for products that involve assembly, e.g. Mechanical industry, IT industry (PCs, Printers and so on). The style followed in writing user manuals / user guides, maintenance guides and installation manuals are very much similar.
A maintenance manual gives the user information about how to keep the product or device in good working condition. Maintenance manuals provide specific information and provide directions to keep the product clean and uphold its performance. Akin to User manuals / User guides, these guides range from a single page to several hundred pages and even thousands depending on the product.
Online help manuals provide instant assistance to application/software users with accurate and specific assistance. They provide major use and support for the IT industry working with software applications. Online help reduces the users need to navigate all through the document to find the right help. Most of Online help tools/guides come with a search feature that allows the user to key in specific information to be looked up. This helps users to find information quickly making online manuals an effective help guide.
Tags: CBT, Computer-based Training, documentation, Installation Manuals, Maintenance Manuals, Online Help, overview, Quick Reference Guides, Technical Communication, Types of documentation, Types of documents in Technical Communication, User manuals, User-guides, userguide