As important as it can be for you to get a great online help manual ready, it can be rather easy for you to make some real mistakes. These include many problems that may come about simply because you were not paying much attention to your work. However, it’s not too hard to avoid these commonplace mistakes if you just understand how they happen.
1. Sentence Sprawl
Sentence sprawl occurs when you are using extremely long sentences. These include sentences that often get off of the main point and eventually move on to other details or concepts.
Sometimes a sprawling sentence can entail more words than needed. In other cases it can entail items be repeated within the same sentence.
Sentence sprawl adds more weight to a sentence than necessary. This keeps the manual from being easy to follow with because you are bearing with tiring sentences that are hard to figure out.
2. Not Organizing Data
The best online help manuals are always well-organized. They have extensive tables of contents and indexes. They are also easily arranged in a series of sections and divisions that are easy to sort through. You have to keep your data organized so it will fit in properly within your manual. It can also be easier for you to add onto the content as needed.
More importantly, organized data is easier for readers to find. They will know that particular sections in your guide may have certain details that they want to use. You must use this organizational plan carefully so you’ll have more control over your data.
You may want to use a map of your information when getting your content ready the first time around. A good map can help you organize your data and help you figure out how it’s going to be laid out. Make sure it’s carefully run and that the information is relevant to each section you have.
3. Being Overly Complicated
You cannot assume that every single person who is going to read your manual will understand what you are trying to say. You have to keep from being confusing or overly wordy.
Also, any technical terms that you have to use must be carefully defined. This is to keep the reader from being confused over any foreign terms that may be featured.
Be sure your paragraphs are checked too. Don’t make them too long or crowded. Keeping short paragraphs helps to make content easier to read.
4. Using a Passive Voice
The passive voice often entails the impression that you are not being direct with someone. It says that you’re just trying to address a problem or other result before actually introducing the solution. You have to introduce the solution first and then explain what happens.
For instance, instead of saying “The leaking was fixed with the glue,” you can say “Glue helped to fix the leak.” This active voice is urgent and creates a direct feeling within whatever you are writing.
5. Being Vague
There are often times in an online help manual when you have to be very specific. This can entail when you need someone to go to a specific menu within your program or what code entries have to be used.
Do not be vague or indirect when talking about solutions. Be as detailed as possible even if it means taking a little more time to get your information shared out there.
Most importantly, be sure you use as many keywords relating to your content as possible. This keeps your content from being vague and makes it all easier to figure out and use on its own. When done properly it will make your content easier to figure out and less complicated.
Be careful when writing a good online help manual. Make sure you avoid the many mistakes that often come about when writing so you can keep your data easy to figure out and professional in its appearance.