Chrysler moved their car manuals from the traditional thick paper manual to a shorter format accompanied by a DVD. Chrysler says the switch will not only save 20,000 trees a year, the videos on the DVD will also be more helpful to users trying to perform tasks. The shorter quick reference guides will still be 60-80 pages long (judging from the photo below, they also look more attractively designed).
With my emphasis on quick reference guides and video tutorials, I feel like I've followed a similar move as Chrysler's. I do like to have a car manual in my glove box, but only for simple, quick information -- what type of oil, what does this or that light mean, how do you change a bulb, etc. I don't need to know the full array of reference information. When I need that info, I can look it up on a computer and print off the relevant topics.
(There's a brief discussion on the latest New York Times Tech Talk podcast about the move from paper manuals to DVDs.)
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include the following technical communication topics: Swagger, agile, trends, learning, plain language, quick reference guides, tech comm careers, and certificate programs. I'm interested in information design, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture and findability, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here. You can also contact me with questions.