I'm confronting multiple issues with warnings/cautions in operator manuals, hoping for feedback and advice from the community.
Old-hand tech writer here, but relatively new to manuals for industrial equipment. Previous manuals (produced in-house, of varying quality) exactly duplicated the warning labels placed on equipment -- color, size, layout -- on the manual pages. Many were included repeatedly, each time a topic was discussed in the manual, throughout every chapter.
They are big, ugly, redundant, and interrupt all flow in the manual. I certainly understand having warnings, but when they are reproduced like labels throughout every chapter, everything else is pushed into the background.
I'm considering the following:
- Using a smaller format -- not reproducing the equipment labels graphically.
- Grouping warnings at the start, perhaps on the left-hand page, of each chapter, rather than sprinkled throughout the chapter pages.
- Hyperlinks/xrefs to all warnings in one place at front of manual, rather than printing the full warning label every time.
On the other hand:
- Most (all?) manuals do the same thing -- warning-sticker graphics throughout.
- Is this required by law or standards organizations?
- Nobody cares about the aesthetics of an industrial operators manual (but we know layout can help or hurt usefulness)
Thank you for any comments.