Difference between Manual and Guide

Key Difference: The term ‘manual’ or ‘guide’ both usually refer to a document whose main aim is to provide information or instructions. It is generally expected that guide are shorter, concise and more to the point than manual. A manual is expected to give more in-depth information and instruction than a guide. However, in practicality, the terms are often used interchangeably.

 The term ‘manual’ and ‘guide’ are commonly used in today’s world and are often used interchangeably. However, while the terms are synonymous, they do actually differ in slight ways.

The term ‘manual’ or ‘guide’ both usually refer to a document whose main aim is to provide information or instructions. Their purpose is to give the adequate information or instructions that may be required by the user. They are both commonly used in relation to machinery, consumer products, training, technical instruction, etc.

It is generally expected that guide are shorter, concise and more to the point than manual. A manual is expected to give more in-depth information and instruction than a guide, which is just expected to give the overall information that the person or user may require.

Basically, it can be said that a manual is a complete, in-depth set of instructions, whereas a guide is a simple 'how-to' that has enough information to get the user started. Hence, a guide will not include information on how everything works, just what the user needs to do to get it to work. Whereas, a manual will detail how and why everything works. It will have so much detail that the user can understand the system and may even be about to troubleshoot and fix it if something goes wrong.

Additionally, while a manual is usually in a written book format, a guide can be anything. It can be a written book, a written card or note, a video, audio, etc., as long as it is best able to provide the customer with the basic knowledge that they require. The general assumption is that a manual is more formal, whereas a guide is more informal and content relative.

However, many times the terms are used interchangeably. Hence, often a guide will be published titled as a manual, while a manual may be published as a guide. Due to this, practically there is no difference between the two. Some guides/manuals may be short and concise, while others may be long and informative.

Comparison between Manual and Guide:

 

Manual

Guide

Definition (Merriam-Webster)

  • of or relating to using the hands
  • a small book that gives useful information about something
  • to direct or lead (someone)
  • to direct or control the path or course of (something)
  • to direct or influence the thoughts or behavior of (someone)

Description

A manual provides detailed technical information regarding something.

A guide provides to the point, concise, user specific information.

Also known as (Synonyms)

Handbook, textbook, workbook, guidebook, guide, reference book, etc.

Catalog, directory, guidebook, handbook, manual, key, reference key, etc.

Purpose

Technical detailed instruction

To the point information that is relevant to the user

Types

  • Owner Manual
  • Instruction manual
  • Set-up manual
  • Training manual
  • Guidebook
  • User Guide
  • Catalogue

Example

  • The instruction manual helped us.
  • It was easy when we started using the set up manual.
  • The car comes with an owner’s manual.
  • You will be given a training manual to help you.
  • The guide helped me make a decision.
  • The guide was very informative.
  • The guide helped me understand the topic.

Image Courtesy: moddb.com, fallout.wikia.com

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