The Effects of Screen Captures in Manuals: A Textual and Two Visual Manuals Compared

M.R.M. Gellevij, Hans van der Meij, Ton de Jong, Jules Pieters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This study examined the use oj screen captures in manuals. Three designs oj manuals were compared, one textual and two visual manuals. The two visual manuals differed in the type oj screen capture that was used. One had screen captures that showed only the relevant part oj the screen, whereas the other consisted oj captures oj the jull screen. All manuals contained exactly the same textual injormation. We examined the time used on carrying out procedures (manual used as a job aid) and the results on retention tests (manual used jor learning). We expected to find a trade-off between gain in time and learning effects. That is, we expected that higher scores on the retention tests involved an increase in time used and, vice versa, that gains in time would lead to lower retention test scores. We also explored the influence oj manual design on user motivation. For job-aid purposes, there were no differences between manuals. For learning, the jull-screen captures manual and the textual manual were significantly better than the partial-screen captures manual. There was no prooj jor the expected trade-off. More learning was not caused by an increase in time used. We jound no effects on user motivation. This study does not yield convincing evidence to support the presence oj screen captures in manuals. However, if one wants to include screen captures, this study gives clarity jor the type oj screen capture to choose. The use ojjull-screen captures is prejerable to partial ones. Finally, we conclude that documentation designed to expedite the execution oj tasks does not necessarily hamper the learning that may result.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting and Speaking in the Technology Professions: A Practical Guide: Second Edition
EditorsDavid F. Beer
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781119134633
ISBN (Print)9780471444732
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2015


  • Computer manual users
  • Screen captures
  • Textual manuals
  • Visual manuals


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