10 Tips & Tricks for More Engaging Manuals

Published: March 6, 2024

Welcome to our guide on crafting attention-grabbing manuals! Whether you’re a new or experienced creator, creating instructions or manuals that are interesting to readers has its challenges. From balancing technical language with clarity, keeping users interested, and meeting the needs of diverse user backgrounds, it can be an overwhelming task.

Based on our years of industry experience, we are sharing our tips to overcome these challenges, ensuring your manuals are both informative and engaging. Let’s get started and explore how to make your manuals stand out!

1) Start with a question

Great manuals offer practical guidance on how to do things, and solve real needs. That’s why it’s important to start with actual user questions. Identifying the pain is the first step in solving the problem.
Interview your end users and find out exactly what they are looking for. A few examples:

2) Structuring the document

Begin by breaking down the process into clear, manageable steps. Each step should represent a single action or task that moves users closer to their objective. Avoid lumping multiple actions into one step, as this can overwhelm users and create confusion.

3) A clear title

Start with a short, clear title that clearly explains what the work instruction will be about. This can be accompanied by a short description or subtitles. Think about what search terms someone might use to find your work instruction.

Pro tip 💡: Use different formats to differentiate between titles and subtitles throughout the document (H1, H2, H3, …).

4) Identify any equipment needed

Identifying the equipment needed ensures users are prepared for success from the beginning. Additionally, mentioning the estimated duration of the entire process helps prevent users from starting only to find themselves unable to complete it in one go.


5) Add Videos (and in the right format)

Media, has the capacity to greatly reinforce your message.  They help to:

  • provide context
  • imagine the situation
  • use less words – long text can get boring
  • add detail that is hard to express in words or a series of pictures

Videos specifically are truly powerful. According to our users,  the best manuals contain 90% steps with video and just 10% steps with pictures.

For example: a video of someone pointing at a switch on a panel and flipping the switch into the right position takes 5 seconds to make. The same instruction in photo’s takes much longer to make. The need to highlight, edit and describe each photo risks not being as clear to everyone as a video.  Test it out.

Pro tips 💡:

6) People respond to people

When working with an ‘actor’, prevent the actor from blocking the image. Have them perform the action slowly to make it easy to follow. To comply with GDPR, make sure to remove any distinguishable jewelry, and try to not capture someone’s face. This also allows for manuals to remain in circulation should that person no longer be with your company.

Pro tip 💡: When filming with an ‘actor’, count back from 3 to 1 aloud and press the record button at “2”.

7) Write in simple language

Make no assumptions about your audience’s knowledge. For more technical wording or abbreviations, provide definitions and avoid slang words.

If your sentence includes the word “and,” consider breaking it into two steps. Be extremely specific in your instructions.

For example, instead of saying “optimize the setting,” explain what the optimal setting entails: how to calculate it, and how to set it. Similarly, don’t simply state “check if the valve is mounted correctly.” Instead, detail the process: “Check that the valve with the triangular mark is pointing to the left and that there is no air between the valve and the opening.”

This kind of writing in combination with a video can reinforce the understanding. For our example above, a video that illustrates a correctly mounted valve compared to a poorly mounted one would offer a powerful visual for the user.

8) Everyone loves a GIF

If your company permits, using GIFs or memes is a great way to keep users engaged. It is something they would not expect to see in a manual or instruction.

For example: Health & Safety work instruction focused on how to properly lift and carry heavy objects

9) If not GIFs, then at least emojis 🚀

If your company prefers not to use GIFs or memes, you can still enhance user engagement by incorporating emojis into your content. Emojis are a fun and effective way to convey emotions and add personality to your communication. Consider using custom emoticons or icons that are specific to your company if they exist. These personalized elements can further reinforce your brand identity and create a more memorable experience for users.

10) Think about languages

In a diverse workplace where workers speak different languages, it’s crucial to consider this diversity right from the beginning of content creation. Identify translation needs early on. This ensures everyone, regardless of their language background, feels included. This allows them to access the information they need, increasing efficiency and safety. Automatic AI translation tools can be particularly helpful in streamlining this process, saving time and facilitating effective communication across diverse teams. 


In conclusion, making manuals that people enjoy reading is definitely achievable if you follow these ten tips. Just remember to keep your writing clear, choose video over pictures, and think about what your readers need. Keep practicing, and soon you’ll be great at making manuals that everyone finds helpful and easy to understand.

Curious as to how we can help you in this journey? Reach out to our team below! 👇