There are three broad ways in which user documentation can be organized.
A tutorial approach is considered the most useful for a new user
, in which they are guided through each
step of accomplishing particular tasks.
approach, where chapters or sections concentrate on one particular area of interest, is of more
general use to an intermediate user. Some authors prefer to convey their ideas through a knowledge based
article to facilitating the user needs. This approach is usually practiced by a dynamic industry, such as
Information technology, where the user population is largely correlated with the troubleshooting demands
3.List or Reference:
The final type of organizing principle
is one in which commands or tasks are simply listed alphabetically
or logically grouped, often via cross-referenced indexes. This latter approach is of greater use to advanced
users who know exactly what sort of information they are looking for.
A common complaint among users regarding software documentation is that only one of these three
approaches was taken to the near-exclusion of the other two. It is common to limit provided software
documentation for personal computers to online help that give only reference information on commands
or menu items. The job of tutoring new users or helping more experienced users get the most out of a
program is left to private publishers, who are often given significant assistance by the software developer.