A handbook, which often serves as a reference book, addresses knowledge on a specific topic in an orderly manner. The arrangement of the contents usually takes place according to thematic aspects and in many cases chronologically. An essential feature of manuals is their systematic structure, which usually exists in the form of a table of contents as an additional separate overview.

Monographs and reference books

Since manuals in many cases have entire subject areas to content, a manual can appear in several volumes or parts, and it is not uncommon that several publishers and authors together write a manual.

These features distinguish a manual from other reference works, such as monographs. Monographs are textbooks that deal with a particular subject, such as a single work, a particular problem or a specific person, as a comprehensive, complete individual text.

Normally, monographs are written by an author, but in contrast to manuals, they deal with much narrower topics. In contrast to a dictionary, which is also a reference book, the contents are presented in a manual in consecutive prose.

Handwritten and dictionary hybrids, arranged alphabetically in alphabetical order and in prose, are referred to as hand dictionaries. In common usage, in the meantime, detailed user manuals are often called manual or user manual.

This is explained by the translation of the English word manual for guidance, but strictly speaking is not correct. Manuals in the sense of user manuals are limited to the use of the respective object, but do not go into the background and are thus primarily a guide and an orientation guide for the users.

Due to the lack of representation of the knowledge material in a complete, chronological and thematic form, they do not fulfill the requirements of a manual in the classical sense. The same applies to the manuals frequently offered as manuals for solving a problem or for certain procedures. A handbook, for example, called Handbook for Creative Writing, is basically a textbook, partly a textbook, and a hands-on manual, but not a classic handbook of a scientific nature.

Instructions and rules for the manual write

If an author wants to write a manual, he has to follow some rules. So a handbook is not just about writing a detailed guide and adding practical tips, but also the backgrounds must be presented.

The reader must be provided with a comprehensive reference work through the handbook, which enables him to acquire background knowledge as well as learn how to transfer and apply that knowledge to practice, along with concrete guidance and tips.

In addition to the comprehensive representations of the subject area, this also includes that the author takes into account and implements current guidelines. It is important, however, to formulate the contents clearly, clearly and precisely, and in this regard to ensure that the contents are generally understandable.

The structure

When designing a manual, the structure should be as simple and clear as possible. For example, a possible outline for a manual can be designed in two parts. In the first part, the knowledge material can be displayed thematically and alphabetically, in the second part the author can then insert instructions, work instructions, checklists or forms.

Especially in the case of scientific topics or subject areas that are subject to constant changes due to new findings or new guidelines, it may be useful to write the manual as a loose-leaf collection.

This makes it possible to remove individual sheets and exchange them with correspondingly updated documents.