Regardless of the industry and niche your business is a part of, writing SOP guidelines has always been concern #1. Among common questions typically posed by many line managers who are responsible for documenting standard operating procedures (SOPs), there is usually something like “Which tips to follow and which program to use when creating a procedure manual or guide.”

Here are some golden nuggets on creating a procedure manual that rocks. Once you are armed with this information, you will be able to churn out help manuals and guides in a breeze. In general, the opinion prevails that developing training manuals is a rather boring and time-consuming process. This article is going to debunk this belief and set up a brand new way to write SOP guidelines.

Creating a Procedure Manual Like a Pro

If you are an entrepreneur, a head of the department or a person responsible for maintaining and updating company’s documentation, chances are you need a feasible plan to know how you can create training manuals, how-to docos, software walkthroughs, and employee onboarding guides in no time without allocating too much effort to it.

Tips and Tricks on Writing SOP Guidelines

There are a number of reasons to document policies and procedures, yet far too often, businesses disregard it and associate it with boring and passive typing that presupposes zero creativity and imagination. In fact, it is an ongoing process that can be unchallenging and hassle-free. This article will drive you to make the documenting process super easy. Before we go any further, let’s clear up what accounts for a succesful guide.

Show don’t tell

An image speaks volumes. This phrase should be a rule of thumb for any writer, because telling informs and showing engages. Stats have shown that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. So, instead of writing long passages of text, provide your staff with screenshots or G.I.F. and place them directly where potential issues may arise. In such a way, you will avoid unnecessary questions, so you will prevent the problem from occurring. Moreover, people tend to recall visual information much easier because studies prove that we remember only 10% of what we hear, 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see and do.

Ensure consistency

If you’re using multiple graphic images in procedures, make sure they have a consistent size and do not cover a lot of space on a page. Another valuable tip is not to be confused by a number of different fonts modern programs can support. Settle on a few readable fonts to be usually used in your manuals. You can choose from the variety of serif and sans-serif fonts. The most common typeface pairing is Georgia with Verdana. Besides, it is crucial to give your documents the same layout. The best advice here is to design a custom template that will be aligned with your brand and business needs so that all training manuals have the same look and feel.

Present information in chunks

Chunking helps information processing. In order to produce top-notch manuals, procedures should be written in a simple structure. It is important to preserve hierarchy in writing SOP guidelines so that readers can conceive them with the naked eye. The use of bulleted or numbered list is welcomed as well as enough white space between images and paragraphs. All this together makes scanning easier and helps navigation through a manual.

Which Program to Use When Creating a Procedure Manual

If you’re filled with doubt concerning which program to use when creating a procedure manual, we are happy to give you this comprehensive list.

ScreenToGif

For added value, it is recommended to use GIFs along with screenshots in manuals. What may cause difficulty, however, is their creation. ScreenToGif comes in handy as a free screen recorder tool, which makes it super easy to create quick and catchy GIFs. This tool lets you record a selected area of your screen, live feed from your webcam or live drawings from a sketchboard. It takes only a few minutes to edit and save your recording as GIF or video.

StepShot

The traditional way of documenting software is broken. With StepShot, you can bid farewell to the usual burdensome way of writing SOP guidelines with the help of screen capturing tools and text editors. StepShot brings together several different tools under a single interface avoiding in such a way switching between multiple contexts. It operates in the background automatically capturing screenshots on every mouse click. Afterwards, you can make use of StepShot’s practical toolkit to add text descriptions, edit visuals, etc. and receive a final guide just in a few minutes. Further, you can export it as a PDF or XML file or publish a ready-made document to WordPress or Confluence.

Canva

Graphic design becomes amazingly simple with Canva even if you are not a professional designer. It gives you all the tools you need to create your own designs from scratch or choose from a number of professionally designed layouts. You can turn your own designs into layouts and share them with your team. Custom templates will help your team save time and stay on brand.

MadCap Flare & RoboHelp

These help authoring tools are used for creating online documentation and online help systems for desktop and web-based applications. RoboHelp makes it easy to localize documentation for different markets and generate output for different destinations: web, email, mobile devices, print, etc. MadCap Flare stores all content and project files as XML, making Flare projects transparent and easily accessible.

The Takeaway!

Once you turn to the aid of the aforementioned tips and tools, you are going to automate the process of writing SOP guidelines in a long run. If you don’t, you will live to see a downturn in your guides production. Well, what if I tell you that creating a procedure manual 15 pages long can take you only 15 minutes instead of one hour? Tally up how much money, time, and labor you can expect to save by following our guidelines. So, give it a shot! The results won’t be long in coming.