How I Wrote My First How-To Manual While Working for Somebody ElseWritten by Robert Brents
When I decided to write my first how-to manual, I was employed full-time; I had a wife, and a pre-teen daughter who was in every sport and activity imaginable, and I was delivering seminars and training courses at night and on Saturdays. I had no idea when or how I was ever going to get a how-to manual written!
Then one of my mentors suggested that I carry a cassette recorder in my car and dictate entire first draft while commuting to my (last) job. And that’s exactly what I did.
When I finished dictating first draft, I gave tapes to a transcription service and they created an Microsoft Word document from tapes, which I then edited, published, and marketed and promoted like crazy. And rest, as they say, is history. As was job I had been commuting to while I was creating my first how-to manual.
Keeping Your Writing SimpleWritten by Robert Brents
he good folks who buy your how-to manual do not want to read anything complicated or hard to comprehend. They bought your manual to help them solve a specific problem, quickly, easily, and efficiently.
You’ve heard acronym “KISS” – “Keep It Simple, Sport!” Obey this admonition and you can’t go wrong. This isn’t Hemmingway we’re writing here, folks. Just facts. Write what’s in your head, then fine tune it, but don’t over-write! We’re trying to clear fog here, not contribute to it.
Fortunately for users of word processing programs, there are a number of tools to help us in our quest for simplicity and clarity.
In Microsoft Word, for example, under Tools menu item, there’s a selection for “Word Count”. Clicking on this option will display (logically enough) number of words in our whole document plus some other information about document.
More importantly, when you run Spelling and Grammar checker from Tools Menu, at end you will get a display of number of sentences per paragraph, along with other statistics, two of which we’ll focus on next.
When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it can display information about reading level of document, including following readability scores. Each readability score bases its rating on average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.