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Illustrations in User Manuals: Preference and Effectiveness with Japanese and American Readers

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This exploratory study examined the attitudes of American and Japanese readers concerning manual formats that differ in their use of illustrations. The results revealed no significant differences between American and Japanese subjects on their preference and their perceptions of ease of following instructions and speed of task operation. All subjects preferred the formats with both text and illustrations and believed they would be more effective than the text-only format. But all subjects believed that formats with step-by-step illustrations would be easier to follow and would improve task speed more than formats with an overview illustration or no illustrations. Also, both American and Japanese subjects had similar attitudes toward the use of cartoons to emphasize information in user manuals, stating that they would not care if such illustrations appeared in manuals and would even like such illustrations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 May 1999

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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