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6 Points for Creating Manuals

Business Manual Creation
6 Points

What are the purposes and benefits of creating a business manual?

What is the purpose of creating a business manual in the first place? And what are the benefits of creating it?
The purpose of creating a business manual can be summed up as "visualizing the business and ensuring a certain level of quality".
Every job tends to rely on the experience and skills of the person in charge, but by creating a business manual, the key points of that job can be visualized and preserved as a company asset.
As a result, subjectivity is eliminated and anyone can perform the job at a consistent level of quality.
In addition, creating a business manual allows for business improvement.
For example, have you ever had to teach the same thing to multiple people at different times?
With a business manual, you can save time by not having to repeatedly teach basic things to different people.

This is a highly beneficial business manual, but caution is required when creating it.
This time, I would like to divide it into six points and share those points with you.

Common Challenges in Business Manual Creation (1)
Difficult to Read Text

One common issue in creating business manuals is that the text is difficult to read. Therefore, we will explain three common challenges and solutions for making manual text easier to read.

Task 1

Inconsistent terminology and expressions when describing the same content.
For example, expressions such as "manually operate", "manually control", and "manual operation" are not unified.

Solution 1

In this case, it is recommended to establish writing rules to unify terminology, expressions, and writing style, and to create a checklist to apply them. Having clear standards like this can prevent confusion for manual users and reduce unnecessary effort for updates.

Task 2

Incorrect subject-predicate dependency Example: "This function operates according to a specific purpose." In this case, "operates" is the correct predicate, but it is twisted with the subject.

Solution ②

In this case, it is important to know the correct way of writing sentences. Furthermore, understanding the granularity of the information to be included can help solve the problem. For example, if you want to convey both "function" and "specific examples", instead of writing them in one sentence, it is better to separate them into two sentences.

Task 3

In the "desu-masu" style, there is a mixture of polite phrases such as "itadaku," "itashimasu," "gozaimasu," and "go-teikyo," as well as sentences in the "dearu" style.

Solution ③

In manuals, we generally use polite language in "desu-masu" form.
In this case as well, applying writing rules and checklists for maintaining consistent writing style is effective.

Common Challenges in Creating Business Manuals (2)
Difficult to Find Where Information is Written
[Table of Contents / Reference Section]

The challenge is that the table of contents and references are written in an inappropriate manner, making it difficult to understand where each information is located. This is also a common pitfall in creating business manuals.

Task 1

There is a significant difference in the amount of information in each table of contents, causing an imbalance in the structure.
For example, in a business manual with chapters 1 to 5, chapters 1 to 4 only have a few pages in total, and chapters 2 to 4 only have chapter titles, while chapter 5 has nearly 100 pages, etc.

Solution 1

If there is an imbalance like the example above, it is recommended to reorganize the summary of chapters 2-4, including only the chapter titles, and upgrade the sections of the voluminous chapter 5 to chapters, grouping them into several chapters depending on the content for a more readable structure.

Task 2

The amount of information in the table of contents is too large, making it difficult to search.
For example, the table of contents has too many levels, or there are headings that do not appear in the table of contents.

Solution ②

Regarding the table of contents, in addition to the regular "main" table of contents, there are also several other tables of contents that can be searched for by purpose, such as a table of contents for business manual users. By adding multiple tables of contents according to the purpose, the searchability will be improved.

Specifically, we will provide an example of a system operation manual.

a. Table of Contents (Main Table of Contents)

As for the main table of contents, for example, we will create a table of contents that follows the flow of the system in the field, such as "Introduction ⇒ Settings ⇒ Option Selection". And by organizing scattered information according to the table of contents, it will become easier to read.

b. Table of Contents by Purpose

It will be easier to understand if you divide the manual into sections based on the purpose of the user's operation. For example, it is more user-friendly to add reference pages that explain each operation purpose, such as "uploading a file" or "setting a password".

c. Table of Contents by Plan

There are multiple usage plans for the system in that manual, and if the functions differ depending on the plan, it will be easier to understand by adding a table showing the correspondence between each plan and the included functions.

By dividing the table of contents in this way, the searchability will also increase, making it a useful manual.

Task 3

I cannot find the desired information even after looking at the reference guide in the article.
For example, it is written as "Please refer to '2. Introduction Chapter 2-1. Initial Settings' for this." However, I do not know where to look on the actual initial settings page, or if the desired information is even available.

Solution ③

When indicating a reference, it is important to not only include the page number, but also the heading name.
And regardless of how the reference is written, using consistent expressions with the current text being viewed will make it easier to understand.

Common Challenges in Business Manual Creation (3)
Difficult to Find Where Information is Written [Information Structure]

One common issue is that the information structure within the text is not consistent, making it difficult to understand where certain information is written.

Task 1

Information within the paragraph is not organized, making it difficult to find necessary information.
For example, it may be written without any breaks in a long sentence.

Solution 1

In this case, first organize the information that is written in the entire text. Group the information by type and consolidate the placement of each group to make it easier to find the necessary information.

Task 2

Designs such as headings and notes are not unified, making it difficult to visually distinguish important information and types of information.
For example, some headings have a "■" mark while others do not, headings of the same level have different font sizes, etc.

Solution ②

In this case, it is important to unify the design of headings and bullet points to make it easy to understand the type and importance of information at a glance.

Common Challenges in Creating Business Manuals (4)
Difficult to Find Where It Is Written
[Web Manual Edition]

Next, we will introduce common issues and solutions often found in operation manuals for web applications and other materials.


Various information is processed with the same font size, weight, and font, making it difficult to understand.
For example, it is difficult to distinguish between operation procedures, operation results, and supplementary explanations, making it difficult to find them.


In this case, it will be easier to distinguish each layout depending on the information such as operation procedures, operation results, supplementary explanations, and cautions. This will make it easier for users to identify what they should do, what they should check, what they should look at when necessary, and what they should be careful about. In particular, grouping information will improve visibility.
Also, adding appropriate screen capture images and making it clear which screen the operation is for will improve visual readability.

Common Challenges in Business Manual Creation (5)
Insufficient Resources for Manual Creation Lead to Failed Plans

Introducing solutions to common challenges faced when trying to create business manuals within the company.


Lack of resources for manual creation
When trying to create business manuals within the company, a common obstacle is the lack of resources. In most companies, creating business manuals is done in conjunction with other duties. As a result, the other duties often take priority and the creation of business manuals is often delayed. However, even if one tries to push through according to the plan, it can put too much strain on certain employees. In the end, there are cases where the plan falls through.


In such cases, one option is to use outsourcing services such as manual creation tools or manual outsourcing. Another option is to utilize dispatching, where technical writers, production and translation directors, and other professionals in manual creation are stationed as external writers to carry out the creation of operational manuals.

Common Challenges in Creating Business Manuals (6)
Business manuals posted on the website are scattered

Recently, it has become common to post business manuals on websites, but a common pitfall is when each manual is scattered.


There are scattered business manuals posted on the website, making it difficult for users to use.
For example, the format of the business manuals for user support posted on the website is not unified, such as in HTML or PDF format, which can compromise user usability. Additionally, there are challenges such as manuals being scattered across frequently asked questions pages and help pages, making them difficult to find.


The solution process for this task is as follows.

1. Collect all manuals
2. Create a table of contents and consolidate information
3. Once the table of contents is finalized, refer to each manual and proceed with rewriting the manuscript

At this time, it is essential to unify the format and placement page. The key is to prioritize user-friendliness and readability.

Procedure for Creating Business Manuals

Here, we have introduced six pitfalls when creating business manuals.
Finally, based on the previous content, we will introduce the procedure for creating business manuals.


Step 1: Determine the Manual's Policy

The first step is to determine the policy of the manual. Let's decide on the direction by keeping the following four points in mind.


1.  About What : How much of this will be documented in the manual?
2.  Who : Who is the target audience?
3.  Why make it What are the media used for creating such as PowerPoint and Word?
4.  How to view : Is the distribution medium paper or a web manual?



Step 2: Organize the Information

Once the manual policy has been decided, the next step is to organize the information. For example, let's gather and organize information like the following.

・Necessary items for work
・Things to keep in mind when proceeding with work
・Flow of work
・Specific steps for work
・Points to note during work



Step 3: Create the Configuration

Once the information has been organized, we will create a structure. The structure will be created starting from the main topics, and then we will create subtopics and sub-subtopics from there. By starting from the main topics, we can grasp the overall flow of the manual. The completed structure can also be used as the table of contents for the manual.



Step 4: Creating the Manual

After creating the structure, we will start creating the manual. Let's review it repeatedly to identify any issues such as typos or missing steps, and get closer to the final version.



Step 5: Distribution and Updating of Manuals

The completed manual will be distributed to the field. By actually using it, improvement points will come out, so we will update the manual. Also, let's keep the manual up to date by updating it constantly.


As such, creating business manuals comes with many pitfalls. It is not uncommon for multiple issues to become intertwined, making it difficult to keep up with updates and requiring a lot of effort.
There are various methods for creating business manuals, such as internal creation, outsourcing, and tool utilization. However, it is important to re-evaluate the original purpose of business manuals and choose a method that offers cost benefits in the medium to long term.

For those who want to know more about manual creation and instruction manual creation

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