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Designing IT training manuals


Is there any information on designing training manuals? If so where can I find it?
Kathryn Goldie

6 Responses

  1. In my experience
    I have written a lot of IT Training Manuals in my time, and from personal experience all I can say is :-

    Keep the information clear and to the point.
    Don’t waffle or use slang or techinical terms
    Assume the reader knows nothing
    Organise the information into sections.
    Number every page/section/paragraph
    Use diagrams & screen shots (a picture is worth a thousand words)
    Edit, edit and re-edit it
    Good luck

    Better still – get some-one else to do it for you

  2. Designing IT training manuals
    Hi Kathryn,

    In order to establish the quality, relevance and validity of the training manuals, I should consult with the end users. If you are the IT trainer, and have used the current manuals, then you may be able to identify these issues.

    As for the design of the manuals, ideally a Technical Author is the best route for assistance. However, I do have experience in this field. My approach would be as follows;

    First stage

    Research usability of existing material:

    format, user-friendly, effectiveness.

    Determine which material is relevant:

    up to date, in use etc.

    Establish the purpose of the manual:

    basic training, system training, application training and/or reference.

    Second stage

    Agree format/presentation of manuals:

    careful consideration is required here, as a common mistake is to simply repeat the system operation manuals.


    Consider; a range of exercises, ‘how to’ chapters, FAQ’s, links to resources etc. Use of snapshots should be emphasised as examples, as software and GUI’s change so rapidly. As for chapter format and content, discuss and research established books/courses. As many companies omit a very important feature, remember to include an amendment section!

    Third stage

    Produce draft examples:

    create some examples (loose leaf in a ring binder, for ease) and distribute, including a questionnaire. Cover all aspects of the manual with multiple-choice questions and a comments provision. Also, explore the possibility of using a CDROM and/or the use of on-line help files/manuals.

    Final stage

    After review, edit and approval – production!

    Not a comprehensive design package, but some food for thought! Should you require further assistance, please drop me an email.

    Good luck!


  3. Manuals
    Hi!! I have designed a few manuals and would agree with the comments made by the other guys – would reccomend that if you can and have the budget to get someone else to do it for you – there is a company called Quessing who do a range of products for creating manuals – the contact I used is called Andrew Vance – Quessing Ltd
    01908 546110 – hope this is of use!

  4. Buy in and Edit!
    I too have been writing training manuals for many years, and the approach of keeping it very simple and step by step would appear to be the best way. Unless you have bags of time, I would recommend buying in editable manuals in the style you like and then edit to suit (adding and removing topics, making it relevant to your company etc). I personally can recommend FMI 0207 432 3281 if you like your manuals to the point without too much waffle!

    From my experience – generic IT training packages or “buying” authoring resource may be OK for things like Word, Excel, etc. However, when you are dealing with company specific processes and procedures which involve IT transactions, be careful when using outside resource to compile your manuals. They often don’t know how the company works, terminology, etc.

    Under these circumstances, only complete IT training documents when the processes are mapped, you have standard operating procedures, and you have a clear understanding of your target audience and what they expect to get out of such a course. There are many good “how to” books on groundwork needed to define, prepare,develop, deliver and finally measure learning.

  6. Manual Writer
    I have taken note of the two manual writing companies recommended. Can anyone recommend other companies? I am particularly interested in courseware in Access, Excel and Excel VBA.


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