A closer look at visual manuals

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    This article examines the genre of visual manuals by discussing the main forms and functions of two types in detail: step-by-step and guided tour manuals. Step-by-step manuals have a one-on-one correspondence between picture and text (explanations and instructions), reflecting the action-reaction mode in which users tend to interact with computers. Guided tour manuals give users a visual impression of the program. The pictures, mostly full-screen captures, are annotated with several paragraphs of text. An experiment is reported in which we examined whether a visual manual helps users realize tasks faster and more accurately than a non-visual manual. No effects on accuracy were found, but the visual manual did increase the speed of task execution with a significant and substantial gain of 35 percent. The conclusion draws attention to the fact that there is no single best type of visual manual, but that each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)371-383
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of technical writing and communication
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1996

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