Quick Reference Guides

Custom-Built Quick Refrerence Guides and Short Instructions

Over the years we have been asked to write many Quick Reference Guides (QRG’s), which are also sometimes known in European circles as “Short Instructions”. The images below show a sample of them.

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Characteristics of a Quick Reference Guide

QRG’s will have the following elements in most instances:

  • Text describing what needs to be done
  • Accompanying images and arrows highlighting parts of a screen shot
  • Manual version control built into the filename of the QRG

For QRGs  most people use tools like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Publisher, Adobe InDesign or some other toolset. These are generally paired up with a screen grabbing tool like the snipping tool or SnagIt. This is a bad route forward though. Why? might be the next question. Well, the answer is that these tools are inefficient and take too long.

Most Quick Reference Guides take an hour or two to construct using ineffcient toolsets. A practised author might be quicker than this, but even if they were 50% quicker it is still too slow. Why is speed an issue? Well, you need different Quick Reference Guides for different people and each person might need many different QRGs to support them in their job. One job role will need a QRG that is different to another job role. Multiply this up and for a large software implementation project you may need to build hundreds of QRGs. If the project needs to cope with different languages and translation, multiply it up again some more.

Efficiently Produced Quick Reference Guides

In order to build QRGs efficiently you need:

  • Pre-built templates that can be populated with the content
  • Toolsets that support built-in version control and workflows. You need a workflow for a review and approval process in order for it to be efficient
  • Automatic screen capture and object recognition
  • Automatic text generation from the object recognition

Take a look at this video showing you how to create a quick reference guide on how to enable testimonials using WordPress. It’s just over 3 minutes long to create a simple guide and doesn’t involve any typing at all.

If you would like to see the completed guide itself, here is the link.

Quick Reference Guides download
Click on the image above to download the file

The example we built doesn’t have any templated branding applied to it, but this can be easily added if needed.

If you have to create a lot of guides in order to support an upcoming project, we’d be delighted to help you. Please get in touch and let’s start the conversation.