How to Create a Software User Manual
Using Abracadabra Instant Manual
This document describes how to create a software user
manual, using Abracadabra Instant Manual.
1) Starting the Manual
Tip: download Instant Manual and practice the steps of how to create a software
When you start Instant Manual, it will create a new, blank manual to add
text and screenshots to. Click the red record button on the tool bar. Instant
Manual will hide itself and appear as an icon in the task bar.
Begin performing the task you want to create a software user manual
2) Taking Screenshots
As you work, take a screenshot of the software at each significant point to
show the user how to perform the task. The end user experience level dictates
what screenshots to take. For less a less experienced user, e.g. a first-year
university student, create a screenshot for each step of the task, which shows
the state of the software at that point. Create instructions that focus on specific
actions, e.g. “click the Save button”. For experienced users, create
screenshots of each important screen, and add instructions for how to use the
Because a user will gain experience as they use the software, you may need
to create a user manual at a different level of complexity for less frequently
used parts of the software.
To take a screenshot, press one of the screen capture keys - Print
Screen to capture the entire screen, Scroll Lock to
capture the active window, and Pause / Break to capture just
the window beneath the mouse pointer. When in doubt, it is best to use the Print
Screen key, as any screen shot can be trimmed once taken.
Tip: Read how to set hot key combinations in the Online
The screenshot editor will appear and prompt you to enter a caption for the
screenshot. This is optional, but entering instructions for this step now will
help you organise your thoughts. You can check the accuracy of the caption by
toggling between the task you are performing and Instant Manual.
It is worth the time to optimise the image settings for the screenshot. If
the document will be posted on a website, the page will load faster by
using a Jpeg image, and decreasing the quality level of the image.
If you are creating a manual for full color printing, it’s best to use
a bitmap format image, and the highest color setting so that no quality is
lost. If the manual is for black and white printing, switch to the Jpeg format,
and use the Greyscale option.
3) Formatting the document
Once you've captured all the steps of the task, you can format the document
in a number of ways:
Delete, move, or change text.
Deleted or resize images.
Set the text
color by selecting it with the mouse pointer and clicking the font color
Set the background color using the File | Properties
Tip: Read more about
formatting the document in the Online Help...
For online documents, you should set the page title using the File |
For printing the document, import it into a word processor such as Microsoft
Word. Because HTML does not support the concept of pagination, Instant Manual
cannot print the document. With a word processor, you can set page breaks, and
add page numbering.