In this blog we’d like to tell you all about writing a manual, which in the technical world is also called operating instructions.
Making operating instructions, this is how we do it!
These days, you receive a manual with basically every product you buy. You may take this manual for granted, but it’s the result of an elaborate writing process. You might even think “How difficult can making operating instructions really be?” It is important to keep in mind that every possible user scenario must be covered. Foxiz primarily writes instructional texts for all kinds of technical equipment, like an assembly line or a coffee maker. Usually, cllients who develop and produce these types of equipment, don’t have an in-house technical writer. That’s why they come to Foxiz.
Our specialist walks us through the process from the first moment Foxiz receives an order. The first step: our specialist discusses the request with the client and asks the following key questions: What are the customer’s expectations? What is expected of Foxiz? What will the purpose of the manual be? Who is the target audience: staff who operate the machine? A consumer who has no knowledge of the product at all? Or is it meant to be used by a technician during maintenance work? The answers to these questions make for a good starting point.
Reading (up) before writing an instructional text
The specialist will then familiarize themselves with the product based on the information the client provides. This usually translates to illustrations of the product or a description of how the product should function. This information is the cornerstone for the operating instruction. As mentioned in a previous blog, there are many different kinds of operating instructions for varying tasks. Operating instructions help us to safely and correctly carry out operations and other work. It is therefore essential that operating instructions are clear and unambiguous to prevent confusion. All in all, a technical writer has quite a few responsibilities.
Operating instructions that are in line with both the client’s wishes and the prescribed legal guidelines
During the entire writing process, the technical writer will keep the client’s wishes in mind. Additionally, it is important that the writer takes the prescribed guidelines for operating instructions into account. Properly written operating instructions are based on the NEN-guidelines. Luckily, the technical writers at Foxiz are experts when it comes to the NEN 5509 and the Machinery Directive.
The operating instructions aren’t finished when the technical writer is done with the first draft. The client receives this concept version to look it over and share their findings and comments, if they have them. Then the writer makes the necessary adjustments and delivers the ‘final version’ to the editor department within Foxiz. Foxiz employs language experts who thouroughly read and, if needed, edit the text. This ensures that the operating instruction is free of grammatical errors and written in correct English (or Dutch). This is an indispensable step in the production process, but it’s also that additional bit of care that a client can expect from us.
Complete operating instructions in multiple languages? Leave it up to Foxiz!
When the editing has been finished, the document returns to the technical writer so that the manual or operating instruction can be delivered to the client. Is a translation required? It happens quite frequently that a client wants to offer a manual in multiple languages. If this is the case, a translation request can be made with the translations department. Foxiz has its own professional translation department. We can offer our clients a wide array of languages. A translation order is then shared with several translators, who will get to work on it immediately. This way we can provide clients with operating instructions in a wide array of languages. Of course, our translators are supported with the most modern techniques and, for example, terminology lists, translation memories and automated processes.
Check, check, double-check
When the translators have finished their work, its quality is assessed yet again. The layout and formatting of the target texts are also checked to see if they correspond to those of the source text. When all this is done, we have an approved operating instruction or manual in various languages. It is then made ready to be sent to the client. A client is, of course, always welcome to come to us with any questions they may have.
Want to know more about the production of operation instructions or writing instructional texts?
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on getting an operating instruction made, writing instructional texts or any other services Foxiz may be able to provide. We don’t shy away from challenges!