A user guide, also commonly known as a manual, is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system. They are written by a technical writer.
User guides are most commonly associated with electronic goods, computer hardware and software.
Most user guides contain both a written guide and the associated images. In the case of computer applications it is usual to include screenshots of how the program should look, and hardware manuals often include clear, simplified diagrams. The language is written to match up with the intended audience with jargon kept to a minimum or explained thoroughly.
The usual sections of a user manual often include:
- A preface, containing details of related documents and information on how to best use the user guide
- A contents page
- A guide on how to use at least the main functions of the system
- A troubleshooting section detailing possible errors or problems that may occur along with how to fix them
- A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Where to find further help and contact details
- A glossary and, for larger documents, an index