How to update a user manual

By John Hargreave

- AST Team Member

technical author updating a user manual

Having made the good decision to invest in a technical author, keep on making good decisions.

Having commissioned a user manual written by a trained technical author, it’s normal for a company to want to update their manual in-house.

The consideration unsurprisingly is usually cost driven. The hard work is done, you have the manual. Why continue to pay a technical author? Surely anyone can update a user manual? Sue in accounts is always bored, Bob in engineering likes writing!

How many people these days buy a car and service it themselves? Plaster their own walls or build their own extension. Sure, some people have the skills, and time, but they are the exception. You know the people, good at everything – don’t you just hate them!

The rest of us when faced with the choice to pay a professional or do it ourselves, start out with the best intentions, to quickly regret it. The job may get done – but to what standard? How quickly will it need redoing – properly?

Remember why you reached out to a technical author to begin with? Did your customer demand a more professional product? Did you realise you no longer had the time? Was the in-house attempt, a bit naff? What has changed – why is now any different?

A user manual is a careful crafted document. A trained technical author knows how to structure a user manual, where information should go, how it should be grouped, the most effective word order to use, Standard requirements, how to best apply navigation, the importance of linking content within it, how to correctly lay out pages, what to include and what to leave out.

Unfortunately, this can easily unravel if casually updated by untrained hands, or Sue in accounts or Bob in engineering. This is no surprise, it’s not their job. Would you ask Sue to design your next product or Bob to produce your balance sheet?

Having made the good decision to invest in a technical author, keep on making good decisions.


At AST Authors after we have written your user manual, we offer all our customers a simple, affordable update service to maintain the integrity of your documentation. Giving you a newly built professionally authored manual every time.

  • Give longevity to your user manual.
  • Stop your user manuals becoming outdated.
  • Protect the integrity of your user manual.

We will:

  • Make the desired updates.
  • Update cross references, indexes and glossaries.
  • Ensure the navigation and layout is intact.
  • Up issue the copyright, publication date, revision table and version reference.
  • Provide a newly built manual every time.

This service is available to all our customers. Please ask for further details when you contact us about your requirement.