What are the characteristics of a handbook or manual?Library question

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A handbook, or manual, is generally a series of instructions pertaining to a specific subject or topic, intended to be used as a source of reference by the user for the product. Many manuals are written by technical writers familiar with the product, and many are written in a how-to instructional format. Manuals are often provided with any item that may require specific instructions for assembly or a more complicated use. The written sections are generally aimed at the audience for which the product is aimed; some manuals may include specific technical "jargon," though it is usually restricted so that beginners can easily follow the instructions. Diagrams or illustrations are often included. Handbooks and manuals are considered a type of reference work, and they are often designed in order to supply particular bits of information rather than being read from beginning to end. Examples include:

  • computer or software manuals
  • "how-to" assembly instructions, such as how to put together an unassembled object (such as a bicycle or lawnmower)
  • start-up or programming instructions, such as for an iPod

Most manuals include sections such as a glossary, FAQ, contents, and troubleshooting.

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