[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 28] 1987
► pp. 118–132
De Gebruiksaanwijzing Bestaat Niet
Various fields of research are valuable for the writer of user manuals: readability (formulas), ergonomics, cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, instructional research and typography. Elements of these fields appear in 'How to write manuals books'. Yet these books do not answer the writer's main question: 'What should the manual look like?'
In this paper it is argued that the manual does not exist and a list of criteria for the classification of user manuals is presented.
According to the list some manual variations were written'and tested: continuous prose versus step-by-step for a compact disc player, and step-by-step versus flowchart and versus pictural for a multi-function telephone.
The list of criteria seems to be a useful starting point for considering the possibilities for a certain product and for testing variations of manuals. The step-by-step version for the compact disc player seemed to be useful for non-experts who strictly followed the instructions but unpractical for the experts who used the manual only as a kind of trouble shooting list. For the telephone the text version appeared to be best; from the flowchart version users did not learn anything.