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If you already have documentation for your products, whether developed in-house or outsourced, try our simple questionnaire to see how it rates against the features we consider most important in user-friendly, effective documentation.

After completing the questionnaire click the Get Score button to see how your documentation rates out of a possible 100%:

1 Does your documentation give tutorials or worked examples?

Tutorials serve several useful functions: They help the user ensure that the product is set up and working correctly, and they give you the opportunity to take the user on a guided tour of the product and its most important features. Once users have worked through a few tutorials they will soon start to visualise how they can use your product to great effect in their own applications.

Rate the worked examples or tutorials in your documentation:

Very good

Fairly good

There aren't any

2 Is your documentation task oriented?

Good documentation should be task oriented: in other words, it should explain to your customer how to do the things they want to do with your product, with statements of the form: "To achieve this effect, do this action".

Descriptive documentation uses statements of the form: "This feature of the product is used for this". It's less effective because it forces the user to deduce how to use the product from the descriptions.

Your documentation is worded:

Task oriented


A mixture of the two

3 Does your documentation help users find information easily?

Providing information is only half of the story; you also need to enable users to find the information they need. Every technical manual and user guide should therefore include a table of contents, a comprehensive index, and cross references.

Indicate which of the following are included in your documentation:

An index

A table of contents

Cross references

4 Is your documentation easy to read?

Good documentation should be a pleasure to read as well as being informative. Magazines use good layout, design, typography, and writing style to make their articles accessible, and the same techniques of design, typography, and writing are equally valid for technical documentation.

Rate how easy your documentation is to read:


Quite good

Very good


5 Does your documentation start by describing the product, and its key features?

Users may not be aware of all the product’s features, and an overview will help familiarise them with your product, and its key features and benefits. The overview will also serve as a useful sales tool for prospective purchasers.

Select each of the following that are included:

Brief overview of the product

List of the product's key features and benefits

A description of the product's applications

6 Does your documentation make effective use of illustrations?

Illustrations, diagrams, and tables are usually a far more effective way of presenting information than the equivalent verbal description. Information presented pictorially is both easier to understand, and easier to remember.

How well does your documentation make use of illustrations?

Few illustrations

Some illustrations

Superb illustrations

7 Does your documentation present the information as concisely as possible?

A technical manual is not a novel; the information should be conveyed in the fewest possible words. The more words a user has to read to extract the information, the longer it will take, and the more opportunity there is for misunderstanding or ambiguity. In general, less is more as far as documentation is concerned.

Rate how concise your documentation is:

Very concise

Quite concise


Now click the Get Score button to see how your documentation rates,
out of a possible 100%:

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