Instructional manuals can be found in many contexts and whether we realize it or not, we have at least read or followed directions once in our lives. Believe it of not instruction manuals are used fro any product that is not bought built. Companies want their customers satisfied, so the manufacturer hires someone to type up instruction manuals for the product they are selling. Normally, there will only be one person writing instructional manuals on a computer. Instruction manuals are straightforward and used to guide people to putting together the product they purchased. People use instruction manuals for possibly everything. Depending on the product, will determine who the buyers are.
The individuals and teams that create instruction manuals can be refereed to as instructional communicators. Notice the use of communicators rather than writers. Not everyone who writes manuals is a writer by education. Instructional communicators could also be developers or designers of the product.
The name used to describe the writing process has deeper implications than merely job titles. Since titles describe what the job entails, they also release new responsibilities onto the writer. The job title, instruction manual writer, added elements to the writing process. The majority of manual writers are not just responsible for the writing of the document. They are also involved with the layout, design and testing aspects of the document. These responsibilities are not a bad thing though, because consumers can trust the seller if he/she knows what he/she is talking about. The changes of job titles affect the genre as well, because the emphasis is not placed directly onto the actual structure.
Whether or not the audience understands what they are reading, the writing found in instructional manuals must be aimed at the customer’s level of understanding and familiarity with the product in order for it to be effective. Specific audiences will have different levels of familiarity and knowledge on a given product. While writing for an audience it is helpful for writers to ask themselves what does the audience need to know, what do they already know, and why do they need this information. Doing so will help writers to understand their audience and how to successfully convey the information at hand. Good writers will put themselves in the reader’s position to learn the best way to deliver the instruction.
Based on all the Genres I have read, each one consistently has a diagram with lines pointing to a particular part on the picture to help guide the user. Each line is numbered and attached to a section with the explanations. This method of content is user friendly so people wont get lost or confused when putting together the product. Reading all the instruction manuals I have, the main rhetorical appeal that is used is logos. It is majority used because no one will purchase the product if the instruction guides are not logical and straightforward. Costumers always want the best deal and guarantee. If I have to choose between two instruction guides, I would choose the one that is logically right instead of ethos, which makes sense. Frankly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable that the writer of the instruction guide knows if he typed it up incorrectly.
The instruction manuals are structured the same but are different in content or idea. They all include diagrams for installation purposes and provide a second language for a more variety of buyers. Without fail every manual has an installation, warning, and warranty section. Depending on the product, they will include an operation section to provide the buyer how it’s used. Within each section of the manual are bulletins, numbers or letters to break up each step. This step-by-step process helps the buyer of the product to track their steps to avoid getting lost or confused. Each step is linked to a picture to provide better understanding.
There are two discourse communities within instruction manuals. First, there are the manufacturers and second, the buyers. They both have a common goal to improve the company to achieve its goal. The Genre allows manufacturers to provide helpful advice, as well as it allows consumers to understand the product they purchased better. Generally, instruction manuals are straightforward for all readers to understand. Instruction manuals main goal are for consumers to better understand the product that the writer presented. The writer always wants to improve their manual to provide help and consumers want to have knowledge of the product by the time they are finished installing the product.
Writer’s Helper. Soft on writers – tough on text. Writing Instruction Manuals. http://www.writershelper.com/instruction-manuals.html Scenes of Writing: Strategies for Composing with Genres by Devitt, Reiff, and Bawarshi (2004), pp. 93-94.