The structure of a typical user guide

Updated Aug 05, 2019

We will examine the following publicly available user guides:

  1. Xerox––Administration and Configuration Guide
  2. Salesforce––Sales Cloud Basics

In this article, we'll point out some characteristics of typical user guides that were most likely written in Word and published to PDF.

Table of Contents

Xerox

First, a look at the Xerox table of contents. You can see that the user guide is broken up into chapters, and under each chapter are sections related to the chapter.

Salesforce

Now, a look at the Salesforce table of contents. The authors of this user guide opted to only include the main topics, and did not show the breakout of each section.

Content Layout

Xerox

Looking through the user guide, I can see that Xerox includes a lot of bulleted lists and links to other sections of the document. For example, in the section Company: Settings, the list of items link down to sections further down the page.

You can also see that the author includes several "Notes" in the documentation.

Salesforce

Looking through the user guide, I can see that Salesforce includes a lot of bulleted lists and links to other sections of the document as well. For example, in the section Leads, there are links to subsections like Set Up Leads. And within Set Up Leads, there are more subsections to areas like Configure Lead Management.

You can also see that the author includes several "Notes" in the documentation. These appear on the side of the document.

How do we transfer the structure and layout to ScreenSteps?

Word and PDF user guides function differently than an online knowledge base. For example, the Xerox user guide is 156 pages, and the Salesforce user guide is 552 pages.

That is a lot of scrolling.

Instead of duplicating that scrolling experience in an online knowledge base, we can break up the user guides so that end users can more easily find what they need.

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