So you want to write a crane manual. From assembling a desk to oilfield safety procedures, manuals are a great resource for communicating information. Nevertheless, creating one can seem at first to be a daunting process. Where do you even begin? Here, we’ll cover the first steps you need to know to create an engaging and educational manual for the crane industry.
Determine the Purpose of Your Manual
Before you can start writing a crane manual, you need to identify what you want to share with your audience. Do you want to focus on crane safety? Would you rather focus on crane components and assembly? Perhaps you want your manual to be more informational for those unfamiliar with cranes? Understanding your overall objective will help you envision the specific types of content to include.
Create an Outline
Outlines are vital to get your thoughts organized and see a bird's eye view of your manual. Specifically, your outline can help with:
-Choosing Topics: Once you’ve identified the objective of your manual, what does your audience need to know?
-Identifying Resources: We’ll talk more about this later, but having an outline will help you identify resources needed to complete the manual. This can include interviews with industry experts or researching relevant studies and statistics.
-Overall Flow: You have all these topics, now you need to put them in a logical order. For example, if you’re working on a crane safety manual, do you want to start of with an overview before getting into the specifics?
It’s important to remember, whether you're writing a fictional novel or technical manual, outlines will change. In a way, this is part of the point of an outline. You might see that a couple topics can be combined into one chapter, or a concept thought to need one chapter might need three. Your outline will help you see what sections these changes affect, making high-level adjustments that much easier to handle. In a nutshell, expect your manual to change. This will make the entire writing process much less frustrating.
Identify Your Team
There’s a certain pride in writing your own manual without any help. However, it’s important to understand that you won’t have all the answers, at least not at first. Jnd.org suggests you form what’s called a design team. Made up of designers, engineers and writers, the design team is involved in the entire manual creation process. Typically, the content of the manual is first written. With the designers and engineers knowing what’s being covered, they are able to better anticipate the layout and product specifications (especially with technical manuals) needed.
While we hinted at this earlier, having a team means you have access to knowledge you wouldn’t have on your own. Engineers can help with assembly and component questions if you’re writing a technical manual. Workers certified in roles such as crane inspector crane operator or signal person can help point to reliable resources if you’re writing a safety manual.
When it comes to writing, you should never edit or proofread your own work. Having a team means you already have people to turn to without having to explain what you’re writing about. When it comes to quality writing, no one’s an expert.
Information professional site INALJ includes the following on their 18 Tips for Writing a Manual: make a project timeline, and give yourself plenty of time. When estimating the time needed to complete each section, it’s always better to overestimate. These might seem obvious, but for those unfamiliar with writing, even a first draft can take longer than expected. Identify sections that need research or other input and start reaching out before you come to their relevant sections.
Writing an industry-specific manual is no easy task, and being in the crane industry only makes it more difficult, as regulations, safety procedures and various equipment changes can easily send someone down a rabbit hole with endless details. This is why first steps are crucial. Understanding your manual’s purpose and creating an outline will make the entire process so much easier. Forming a team will give you access to resources and manpower that would be impossible on your own. With these pieces in place, you’ll be ready to create a leading industry manual.