Reading Usable Help
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Gordon R. Meyer
In "That Thing in the Glovebox" Ann Job discusses the current state of the automobile owner's manual. "If only car owners would open these manuals and regularly refer to them. Automaker officials say consumers could learn a lot about how to better take care of their vehicles..."
The article also discusses how burdened US manuals have become with legal and safety warnings, and how the books have grown in size. (More than doubled in length compared to 40 years ago.)
Because lengthy tomes are discouraging to customers, some manufacturers include shorter, and more visually attractive, quick-start or reference guides. I've seen one example recently, and it was essentially a road-map for locating information in the owner's manual. Or, put another way, it was a manual for how to use the other manual.
Next time you find yourself at a car dealer, ask a salesperson if you can see the documentation set for one of the latest cars. Not only will you surprise and puzzle the salesperson, you'll get to see what might be the last big, thick, printed manual for a consumer product.