Top tips for designing, creating, writing and translating product instruction manuals
Ever wondered how that big chunky user manual in all those languages that you got with your new washing machine came to be? Well here’s an introduction to how these types of manuals are made, the regulations relating to them, and the best way to get one done for your products.
Consumer goods such as washing machines, refrigerators, and other household appliances require a detailed manual to be provided to the consumer in order to ensure that the product can be used safely and effectively. In the European Union, specific regulations exist regarding the content and layout of these instruction manuals, which, once all languages have been added, can often rack up over a hundred pages.
And it’s this step – providing the manuals in the language(s) of the countries where the products will be marketed – that is arguably one of the most important of all the regulations. This is to ensure that consumers have access to the information they need to safely and effectively use the product. In addition, the manuals must be clear and concise, with information presented in a logical and easy-to-follow manner.
Another important requirement is that the manuals must contain diagrams and/or pictures to illustrate key points when assembling or programming the product. This is particularly important for products such as washing machines, where it can be difficult to describe certain features or operations in words alone. The diagrams and pictures must be clear and easy to understand, even for consumers who may not have a high level of technical knowledge or understanding.
Detailed diagrams with clearly indicated parts are a must for any user manual
It is important to note that accurate translation of these manuals is crucial to ensure that consumers can understand the information presented. Inaccurate or poorly translated manuals can lead to confusion or even dangerous situations, particularly when it comes to household appliances. For example, incorrect information about the operation of a washing machine could lead to damage to the machine, the items placed into it, or injury to the user.
To ensure that these manuals are accurately translated and presented in a clear and professional manner, and respect local regulations, it is advisable to use a professional translation agency with experience of handling multilingual assignments, as some user manuals can contain instructions in over 30 languages! Furthermore, such agencies can handle not just the translation of the manuals but also their professional layout and design. This ensures that the manuals are presented in a way that is easy to understand and follow, even for consumers who may not have a high level of technical knowledge or understanding.
Don’t underestimate the importance of clear visuals in your user manual
Using a professional translation agency also ensures that the manuals are translated by native speakers who are familiar with the nuances and subtleties of the language. This is particularly important when it comes to technical language or industry-specific terminology, which can be difficult to translate accurately without a high level of expertise. Other tips for translating user manuals can be found in one of our previous articles here
In conclusion, the regulations governing consumer goods instruction manuals in the European Union are designed to ensure that consumers have access to the information they need to safely and effectively use the products they purchase. Accurate translation and clear presentation of this information is crucial to avoid confusion and potential safety hazards. To ensure that these manuals are presented in a professional and effective manner, it is advisable to use a professional translation agency.
Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon, where we will go into the European legislation for user manuals for household appliances in more detail.
HI-COM has a wealth of experience in handling multilingual translations of user manuals for a wide range of consumer goods manufacturers such as BMW, FRANKE, MIKRON TOOL, CASINO GROUP, and DECATHLON.
To find out how HI-COM can help with the translation of your product instruction manuals, get in touch with us today!