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Chrysler Drops Long Car Manuals in Favor of Short Guides + Video

by Tom Johnson on Sep 30, 2009 •
categories: technical-writing

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).

Chrysler's new documentation strategy: short guides + video + DVD
Chrysler's new documentation strategy: short guides + video + DVD

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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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer / API doc specialist based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.