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10 tips for writing a user manual

December 2, 2022

You're about to launch a new product, but you still have to write the user manual! So that you don't see this important step as a chore that you need to get rid of as quickly as possible, the Pimster team has written this article to help you, detailing each point of attention. 👉

Define your objective

When writing a user guide, you should aim to fulfil 3 objectives:

  • Make your user want to read it.
  • Enable your consumer to understand the instructions and therefore your product
  • Improve your customer relationship by providing an outstanding experience

To do this, you need to focus on the fact that you are trying to help the user solve a problem. Don't just focus on your product, but group your explanations in the user manual rather than the action. It is counterproductive to simply describe the product.

1. Know your audience

Before writing your user manual, you need to target precisely the profile of your customers. Indeed, a manual will be completely different if it is written for professionals or more traditional consumers. It will also be different depending on the use of your product.

For example, for classic consumers who only buy your product occasionally, such as home furniture, it is preferable to prioritise content detailing each step, and accompanied by images, but also to banish technical terms that do not help understanding.

If you know who your readers are, your manual will be more accurate and of good quality.

2. Put yourself in the user's shoes

This is more difficult than you might think, but it is important not to skip this step. Explain how to understand your product as if it were the first time you had seen it. This is especially difficult because your team has often already been working on the product for several months and knows it by heart.

To get a new perspective, you can have members of another team look at the new product and observe their interactions and note their issues.

3. Use simple and clear words

You want your manual to be understood by as many people as possible, and to do this you must avoid technical terms at all costs. By using simple and short sentences, you improve the experience of your customers, and thus fulfil one of your objectives.

4. Sort the information from simple to complex

Keep in mind that your user has just unpacked their product and therefore is not really familiar with it, and is initially just looking to get the hang of it. It is therefore more effective to start with basic information and follow up with more complex explanations as the consumer uses the product.

5. Use images

Images should be used without moderation in your manual! The human brain processes a picture 60000 times faster than text. You can use them to describe delicate steps in the use of the product, or to give maintenance tips.

Combine your images with short, clear texts and you have the winning combo for an effective user manual!

6. Adopt a clear structure

A clear structure is important not only for the discovery of the object and the manual, but also when your consumer needs to come back to the manual in case of questions or breakdowns. They can then find the information in no time. This improves the user experience and sets you apart from your competitors! (yes, sometimes it's that simple).

To make your manual structured, you can add a summary, visible headings grouped by topic, a failure-solution table at the end, or a quick start guide at the beginning of the manual.

Another example of a structure that works is a step-by-step guide with short sentences illustrated with detailed pictures like in a LEGO manual.

Finally, feel free to create concentrated sections around the most frequently asked questions or most common breakdowns.

8. Pay attention to the translation

We conducted a survey of 200 people and among the responses, mistakes in the translation was the number one bad experience with the user manual.

Yet it is not very difficult to produce a good translation, even with little time and resources. Not convinced? Read our article on the subject.

9. Pay attention to the layout

You have to make your customer want to open your manual! This may seem obvious, but there are still many manuals of more than 150 pages with no pictures, no colour and no appeal that immediately end up in the bin without even being read. It is a pity to be concerned with explanations that will never be read, because the format is unattractive!

To make your manual more engaging, you can use: images, colours, a neat font... or make it interactive by making it available online! But be careful, we are talking about making it interactive, with videos or podcasts, for example, and not simply digitising it in PDF format. The PDF format is not very readable on a smartphone and does not provide any added value to your user, unlike an interactive manual which allows for better understanding and an excellent customer experience.

Need help writing your user manual? See our article on tools for writing user manuals.

10. Make your manual accessible!

Indeed, there is nothing more unpleasant than looking for your manual for hours, and having to watch a Youtube tutorial.

To avoid this, you can turn your manual into a digital format rather than leaving it in paper format. Then make it accessible through links or QR codes placed on your product, your website or integrate them into your application. This way, your users will be able to find the information related to your product whenever they need it.

If you have any doubts about the regulation of instructions for use and their digitisation, see our article on this subject.

Bonus: Opt for a digital user guide?

Contact us so we can show you what Pimster can do for your user manuals.

To remember


  • Clear and logical structure
  • Easy to access and understand key information
  • Illustrate with images
  • Digitise your instruction manual


  • Unclear text and long sentences
  • No or few images
  • Explanations are too technical and not properly targeted to users
  • Long and indigestible paper user manuals

Check out our article on the top 10 best manuals for inspiration .

Want to know more? Check out our blog for new articles