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How to Create a Training Manual Quickly

Save time by creating quick training guides for office tasks, processes, and jobs.

Illustration of training manual.

Training manuals come in all shapes and sizes. And with today’s daily emergence of new technologies and workflows, being able to create a training manual quickly is important.

When you need to create a training manual to empower your coworkers to use the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, then the following workflow is the best strategy to get it done.

Define your content

You can’t make a quick training manual about how to fly a helicopter. As you select your topic, choose one that would be appropriate to address. Typically one where you could teach someone everything they need to know in a few steps.

You can, however, quickly create training manuals for numerous office, technology, work, and other tasks. Manuals for these purposes are incredibly useful as they save you and other knowledgeable employees from having to repeat yourselves. They also aide workers and colleagues learning tasks that are part of new systems or only done a few times a year.

The ideal length for short manuals like this is about 10 steps or less. Consider the task or process you are training on and whether that is enough content to convey what you need. It might be possible to break a process into a couple of parts and create a few small manuals that make one larger one.

Plan and design visuals

Once you know the process or task you will teach, start collecting visuals. This is the key to your manual’s success. 

If you do any eLearning work, you’re probably familiar with the importance and effectiveness of visuals in learning. This is true of training manuals, too. Having great visuals helps users and learners complete the process more quickly and remember more of it. Great visuals emphasize what a user needs to know without presenting distracting or confusing elements. Often the best visuals are simple and don’t overload the viewer. Achieving this may mean removing unnecessary aspects of an image, which auto-fill is particularly helpful with.

Collect screenshots and other images

If your manual covers a process that is computer-based, capture screenshots of each step. Alternatively, for a real-world process, photos demonstrating the process or graphical illustrations are ideal.

For images not captured with Snagit, open each by going to File > Open or dragging them into the tray in Snagit.

Annotate images for clarity

Screenshots and images often need a couple tweaks to truly get their point across. Usually this means adding annotations like arrows, shapes, and other callouts. Another nice touch is to remove or hide sensitive or unnecessary information. 

Use the drawing and editing tools in Snagit to edit your images so they convey the right message and have unnecessary or sensitive information blurred or removed.

Edit all of your images to prepare them for inclusion in your training manual.

Assemble and deliver your manual

Now is when creating a training manual usually becomes tedious. The process of adding images to a template, document, or another source involves formatting frustrations, image sizing issues, and other similar, unforeseen challenges. 

In this case, an easy solution is to Combine Images using Snagit. This feature lets you select the images you want to include in your manual, add text, arrange the order, and make selections about the appearance in one quick process. 

First, select images in the tray for the manual. Use Shift-Click to select a range or Control-Click (Command-Click on Mac) to select individual images. Then right click one of the selected images and choose Combine Images.

Cursor right clicking and choosing Combine Images from context menu.

Use the Combine Images menu to arrange the images in the right order by clicking and dragging. 

Then complete each of the following steps as necessary. 

  1. Add instructional or descriptive text to each image.
  2. Enter a title that will display at the top of the manual and choose portrait or landscape orientation.
  3. Select…
    • A font and color combination.
    • A color for the canvas (this is the background, white is usually ideal).
    • Whether you want the steps numbered and a color for the step markers.
  4. Click Combine to finish.
Snagit's Combine Images menu with step markers.

Snagit will take your images and text and lay them out in order in a single piece, your training manual. 

Completed training manual using Combine Images.

Save a version of your manual as a PDF. This is ideal for sharing, placing on Sharepoint, a company intranet, or printing and posting around the office.

I like to save a PDF, because it is a good filetype for sharing and consumption by others.

I then save a second version as a SNAG (or SNAGPROJ for Mac). This makes it easy to update later on. The SNAG (Win) or SNAGPROJ (Mac) filetypes keep your file editable so you can change text and other elements in the future.

Not every training issue is going to be a quick production. It’s important to be able to determine when the speed of production is an important element.

In some cases, a quick manual may even be a necessary stopgap while an in-depth piece is in the works. In these cases, it’s ideal to have something like Snagit and Combine Images in your back pocket.

Guy Larcom

Guy Larcom is an Instructional Designer with the Marketing Team at TechSmith. Outside of making awesome screencasts and tutorials, he loves golfing and skiing.

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