Category:Guides and manuals

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Guides and manuals are forms of instructional documentation. They are a non-fiction genre including: blue-books, hand-books, help, how to's, product instructions, quick-references, technical documentation, user guides, user manuals, policy-white papers or etc. There are large areas of overlap between guides and manuals, and other related instructional books such as textbooks.

Comparing guides and manuals[edit]

Both guides and manuals provide "How To" advice. The differences between them is their differing emphasis on breadth. Manuals tend to be broader overviews of some tool like an appliance, software, or other useful method; while guides tend to be more narrowly focused instructions on how to achieve specific results. For example, a construction professional may keep a thick construction-methods manual or blue-book, while inside it he finds a guide on how to create particular effects with plaster.

Are these textbooks?[edit]

Some good quality books might be both manuals and text books, especially in technical areas of scholarship, like engineering. The general difference is that textbooks are more concerned with broad and deep familiarity with one area of scholarship. The history of the topic, the roots of its' relevance to related phenomenon, purposes of studying it beyond the usefulness of the objects described in that study; all these will be important parts of textbooks. Those scholarly concerns with knowledge are given little importance in documentation guides and manuals, even when they do show up in glossaries, subsections, or curious side notes. Another way to state this is to say guides are on the technical side of the spectrum between applied technology and basic science. Rule of thumb: If a book puts most attention on the theories and context of a topic, its likely to be a textbook or about an original work. If a book puts most attention on how to accomplish something (such as suceeding on an examination), its likely to be a guide.


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