How to Write a User Manual (That’s Easy to Follow)
Writing a user manual is a big responsibility because the finished document will be used by people who are depending on it to provide them with instructions they can follow. Learning how to write a user manual requires a combination of organizational and technical writing skills.
Understanding who your audience is can be half the battle when writing a user manual. Identifying your audience helps you decide what type of information and how much detail you need to include the manual as well as how the information should be presented.
For example, a user manual for a piece of computer equipment can include technical terms without definitions if the audience is professional computer technicians, but that isn’t the case if the audience is end-users.
Step 2: Define the Purpose of the Manual
Make sure you know exactly what the manual’s readers need to learn how to do. There is a big difference between writing an instruction manual that focuses on explaining how to use an item versus how to repair one. If you’re writing a manual for beauticians who will use a new hair dryer model in a salon, that is very different from creating a manual for the purpose of explaining how to service or repair the hair dryer.
Start your first draft by making a list of all the steps that someone needs to follow to perform whatever task(s) the manual is supposed to explain. Once you have made a list, use the list of steps you created to try performing the tasks(s) yourself. This will help you determine if the list is sufficient as is or if changes need to be made. Chances are you’ll realize that some more steps need to be added or that some of the listed items need to be broken down into multiple steps. Revise as needed and keep working through the instructions until they are easy to follow as written.
How to provide tour commentary (step-by-step)
Any tour should start with opening remarks about what guests can look forward to. Earn guest’s attention by structuring your tour commentary in a way that puts their interests first.
1. Address important topics
Guests want to head into a tour feeling confident that a guide will deliver a memorable experience. With your approach, aim to be both informative and engaging with your guests from the get-go.
2. Bookend points of interest
Lead with the most commonly asked questions and topics that are featured in your tour listing. Consider mentioning whether food will be available and where guests can find washroom locations along the tour route.
You’ll also want to address anything that isn’t concrete, like whether they’ll have time to explore and photograph a famous landmark. Just like with GPS in your car, it’s much easier to know where to turn if you know the route plan.
3. Address any questions
After your pre-amble confirms the tour type, make space to connect conversationally with your guests. You can ask guests where they are from, the reason for this vacation and try to find out what people are most looking forward to seeing.
As a bonus, this minimizes potential disruptions halfway and provides good tour commentary. In addition, if there happens to be transportation for the bulk of the group, ensure you instill the importance of time management.
4. Showcase your enthusiasm
Charm and inspire guests before the tour kicks off, with your excitement for what’s to come. And while this may not be your first time providing this tour, trust that they will feed off your energy and excitement.
Picture yourself taking a moment to take in sweeping views or savour a tasty treat while on a food tour. These moments of acknowledgement let your guests know that they can carve out a few moments too.
5. Leave guests feeling inspired
You may already be a charismatic tour guide. Perhaps you’re delighting travelers with your wild and wondrous stories. But there’s always room for adding in a bit of variety into your daily routine and a fresh perspective for how you deliver guided tours. When guests wrap up a tour, your goal is for them to feel like they learned a little and had a lot of fun.
10 characteristics guests want in a tour guide
We’re all human and appreciate when people treat us with kindness and respect. So, when it comes to tactics for tour guide commentary, here are a handful of traits that guests look for in a tour guide:
1. A sense of humour
You may find that funny, light-hearted stories will jive with almost any crowd. Keen to inject some humour into your script? Just ensure it’s relevant to your audience and relatable.
Some travelers appreciate being asked what they’re hoping to get out of their experience and how far they’ve traveled to join in on your tour. Looking after small details and paying attention is a thoughtful trait that guests appreciate.
3. A guide who’s good with kids
While it can be challenging to structure a tour for all ages, if you aim to be inclusive, you’re destined to win minds and hearts. Look into opportunities to highlight kid-specific topics and vantage points. Aim to schedule some pit stops along the route to keep everyone comfortable and happy.
Have you ever heard of the golden rule? It may seem silly, but by treating others how you would like to be treated, you help set the tone for how people in your group will interact.
Plus, when you get to know people personally, this helps to heighten their experience. After all, when guests book a tour they hope to be treated well. Help guests feel more comfortable and consider what different travelers might find interesting while on tour.
5. Informative storyteller
If you’ve been living in a region for some time, you probably have a wealth of knowledge to share. Guests expect that you’ll be well-informed and willing to share your local knowledge. Let’s say you’re looking at creative ways for how to train a tour guide, it’s key to bring your local knowledge and storytelling chops to the table.
6. Organized and punctual
Starting a tour on time is essential for every guest who made a point to be punctual and ready for things to start. Sure, mishaps happen and people find themselves in the wrong location. But as a general rule, you want to reward the guests who are prepared, by starting your tours on time.
Try sticking to time limits set for exploring an area and visiting different points of interest. In addition, guests hoping to make the most out of their trip will appreciate a tour that starts and ends right on time.
When guests book a tour, they put their faith in you to be direct and honest. Deliver on the promise and try to keep things on track with what your tour is supposed to include. Sometimes, it’s possible to get your facts wrong or not know the answer.
Ask if your guests have read up on the area and whether they have the answer. It’s not a bad idea to have a few key facts in your back pocket, so you do have the answers most of the time.
As a tour guide, you’ll potentially come across bad weather, detours or chaos from last minutechanges. Being adaptable is all a part of the role. This is where stories can keep your guests entertained if things go array.
The role of a tour guide is not without its challenges. You may have guests joining a tour with no minimal idea of what to expect, only having booked your tour because it was suggested to them. Keep things light and aim to be helpful for all travelers. This is where your uncanny ability to shift multiple hats is what makes you so good at your job.
Sometimes, leading a tour may test your patience. You’ll find that respect can go pretty far, even if you don’t speak the same language. You may have to contend with late guests, irritated travelers and a wide array of personalities, but it doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an amazing tour for all.
Tour guests may not know or understand all of the expected cultural norms. Your role is to give travelers the benefit of the doubt, instead providing them with the opportunity to learn something new. And always keep your cool and remain respectful with tour guests.
Guests book tours with guides for a curated, hands-on and personalized experience. So, if they choose to book a tour with you, aim to dazzle them with your wealth of knowledge and personality.
Scan any negative online review and you’ll note descriptions like “cold, indifferent, boring or selfish” amongst the bad reviews. If travelers were looking for a generic experience, they could base a tour off a blog or seek out something on an audio walking tour. Make sure your personal touch is present throughout the tour.
Types of poetic forms
There are many different types of poems. Some have very strict style rules, while others are classified according to the topics they cover rather than their structure. When you’re writing poetry, keep the form you’re writing in mind as you brainstorm—with forms that involve rhyming or require a specific number of syllables, you’ll probably want to jot down a list of go-to words that fit into your chosen format before you start writing.
A limerick is a five-line poem that follows a strict AABBA rhyme scheme. Though they often discuss humorous subjects, this isn’t a requirement—the only requirement is that it fits this precise rhyme pattern.
A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem that was often used by Shakespeare and Petrarch. Although a sonnet’s exact rhyme scheme varies from poem to poem, each sonnet has some kind of consistent rhyme pattern.
Blank verse poetry is written in a specific meter that, as a rule, does not rhyme. Although this specific meter is often iambic pentameter, that isn’t a requirement for blank verse poetry—the only requirements are that it does not stray from its meter (whichever meter the poet chose) and that it doesn’t rhyme.
Elegies are poems that, like odes, pay tribute to specific subjects. However, rather than being purely celebratory, an elegy is generally a reflection on its subject’s death and includes themes of mourning and loss.
How to write a poem
Writing a poem isn’t the same as writing a short story , an essay, an email, or any other type of writing. While each of these other kinds of writing requires a unique approach, they all have one thing in common: they’re prose.
With poetry, going through the standard writing process can feel like a creativity killer. That doesn’t mean you should just sit down, scrawl out a poem, and call it a day. On the contrary, when you’re writing poetry, you might find that skipping one or more stages in the traditional writing process will help you be more creative.
Of course, you might also find that following the writing process helps you explore and organize your thoughts before you start to write. The usefulness of starting with brainstorming, then moving onto outlining, then starting to write only once you’ve got an outline varies from poet to poet and even poem to poem. Sometimes, inspiration strikes and the words just start flowing out of your mind and onto the page.
1 Decide what you want to write about
Unless you’ve been assigned to write a poem about a specific topic, the first step in writing a poem is determining a topic to write about. Look for inspiration around you, perhaps in nature, your community, current events, or the people in your life. Take notes on how different things make you feel and what they drive you to think about.
Freewriting can be a helpful exercise when you’re searching for the perfect topic to write a poem about. You can use a writing prompt as a jumping-off point for your freewriting or just jot down a word (or a few) and see where your mind guides your pen, stream-of-consciousness style.
2 Determine the best format for your topic
Your poem doesn’t have to adhere to any specific format, but choosing a format and sticking to it might be the way to go. By opting to write in a particular format, like a sonnet or a limerick, for example, you constrain your writing and force yourself to find a way to creatively express your theme while fitting that format’s constraints.
3 Explore words, rhymes, and rhythm
If you’ve decided to write your poem in a specific format, read other poems in that format to give yourself a template to follow. A specific rhythm or rhyme scheme can highlight themes and clever wordplay in your poem. For example, you might determine that a limerick is the most effective way to make your readers laugh at your satirical poem because the format feels like it has a built-in punchline.
4 Write the poem
Don’t expect to write something perfect on the first try. Instead, focus on getting your words out. Even if your lines don’t rhyme perfectly or you’ve got too many or too few syllables to fit the format you chose, write what’s on your mind. The theme your words are expressing is more important than the specific words themselves, and you can always revise your poem later.
5 Edit what you’ve written
Once you have a draft, the next step is to edit your poem. You don’t have to jump right from writing to editing—in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Give yourself a break. Then in a day or two, come back to your poem with a critical eye. By that, we mean read it again, taking note of any spots where you can replace a word with a stronger one, tighten your rhythm, make your imagery more vivid, or even remove words or stanzas that aren’t adding anything to the poem. When you do this, you might realize that the poem would work better in another form or that your poem would be stronger if it rhymed . . . or if it didn’t.
Reading your poem aloud can help you edit it more effectively because when you listen to it, you’ll hear the poem’s rhythm and quickly notice any spots where the rhythm doesn’t quite work. This can help you move words around or even completely restructure the poem.
If you’re comfortable sharing your poetry with others, have somebody else read your poem and give you feedback on ways you can improve it. You might even want to join a writing group, online or off, where you can workshop your poetry with other writers. Often, other people can spot strengths and weaknesses in your work that you might not have noticed because your perspective is too close to the poem. A more distanced perspective, as well as perspectives from readers and writers of different backgrounds, can offer up ways to make your writing stronger that you hadn’t considered before.