How to Create a Training Manual (+ Free Template)

Lauren Funaro
May 15, 2022
September 19, 2023
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Unlock employee potential! Learn how to create training manual with this step-by-step guide.
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Fifty-one percent of employees say that effective workplace training makes them more confident at work.

Unfortunately, over 40 percent of employees say their workplace training is ineffective

A training manual is the backbone of any training program. It gives employees a point of reference, while ensuring your processes and tools are up-to-date.

And with the right tools and processes, you can write a training manual that leaves an impact on your team and company as a whole.

TL;DR: How to create a training manual

  • Training manuals have evolved to be more exciting and interactive with the help of technology.
  • They are essential for onboarding new employees, implementing new systems, and sharing best practices.
  • They reduce employee workload and prevent costly mistakes.
  • The steps for creating a training manual include defining your audience, planning your content, defining the format, creating the content, delivering, tracking progress & collecting feedback, and reviewing & updating content.
  • Use digital documentation tools to simplify the creation of effective training manuals.

What is a training manual? + Free Template

A training manual is a series of instructions designed to improve the quality of a job, process or operation.

Training manuals are more than bulk text — they hold the processes that keep teams running. Ninety-two percent of respondents in a study of 1000 US employees say they’re more engaged at work with properly implemented training programs.

You can use a training manual to introduce employees to your company, its processes and their individual work instructions. Existing employees can also use them to learn about new systems, tools or software.

There are several different types of training manuals, and they all serve their own purpose, such as:

  • Onboarding new employees.
  • Implementing new systems and applications.
  • Process documentation for a new procedure, technique or task.
  • Train existing and new customer service team members on providing excellent customer support.
  • Sharing processes and best practices.
  • Customer education and training.
  • Information about how to use a product.

But no matter the purpose of your training manual, it should follow the same standard format.

✅ Check out this free training manual template to kickstart your own training program.

Build a training manual from scratch — in way less time.

What is the purpose of a training manual?

Like we said above, manuals can serve several different purposes and functions. Still, the goal of a training manual is pretty univeral: to help the user perform a task accurately and effectively.

Companies create training manual content to boost productivity and guarantee that everyone gets the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in their jobs.

These manuals support individual professional development and directly impact the company's bottom line. They can improve employee effectiveness, competency, production, and profit.

Employees are much more likely to retain what they read if designed to be consumable, effective—and most importantly, interesting.

The most effective user manuals include step-by-step procedures. A well-written training manual is a trusted resource for employees, supervisors, customers, and clients.

How to write a training manual

Like with any method of procedure, there are several steps to put a training manual together.

To create a training manual in half the time, you can try a process documentation tool like Scribe. First use the AI-powered software to capture any process to generate a step-by-step guide, then use AI to combine your guides in a full-length training manual.

Generate guides and write a training manual fast ➜

Want to create your own training manual from scratch? Check out this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Define your audience

Know who you're writing for. It's the first—and most crucial—step in the process. It's important to envision how and when users will access your training materials.

It's a good idea to ask and answer questions like:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • Why are they reading this?
  • What are the objectives for this manual?
  • What's the extent of their knowledge?
  • What industry and type of business do they work in?
  • Would they benefit from longer or shorter content, e.g. a quick reference guide?
  • Is it preferable for them to read or watch?
  • Is there anything you need to be mindful of in terms of cultural or linguistic context?

Answering these questions helps you determine how much material you should provide. Knowing your audience's skill level, context and preferences can help get the best results from your content.

Step 2: Plan your content

A user-friendly manual is a must-have for every organization. A new user will feel at ease finding the information they need, while a returning user can easily locate certain materials and subjects.

Lay out the elements of your training documentation and structure them strategically in a way that makes sense for users.

The topics in your training handbook can be organized and classified according to various themes. You might categorize them by:

  • Topics ranging from basic to advanced.
  • Things to do.
  • Product features.
  • Frequency of use.
  • Popularity with the target demographic.

When creating small one-off training guides, you can outline this quickly.

But if you're writing a full guide, it may take some time. A step-by-step guide template will make the process easier and save time.

When you're creating the content, be sure to add a summary for each section. Don't forget to add visual elements to keep it engaging, like:

Tailor your training manual to suit your industry and audience. Provide industry-specific examples and solutions. The needs of your IT team and HR team will be quite different, so use the industry-appropriate "language" that will resonate most.

If your manual has a large number of subjects, group them and use headers and sub-sections to organize the content. Create a table of contents for the final training manual using this format.

Step 3. Define the manual format

Now that you've identified the training manuals your company needs, it's time to choose how you'll provide them to your staff. Here are some of the most popular types.

  • Guidebooks and pamphlets in printed form.
  • Manuals in Word or PDF format.
  • Powerpoint presentations.
  • Knowledge base articles.
  • Online training.
  • A series of instructional knowledge base videos.
  • Quick interactive modules.

Select a format based on the topic you intend to write about. For example, if you want to teach how to utilize a piece of software, you should use a software documentation tool that showcases the technology and outlines each step.

A PDF manual or launching an online course may be the best way to teach new workers about the company's policies and procedures.

Step 4. Create the content

Once you've completed your research and development, it's time to put it all together. For some companies, a simple text editor and a printer are all you need. And for others, this information will live entirely online in an internal knowledge base.

💡 In general, most training manuals are made up of several training guides, complete with images and steps for each task.

The process includes:

  1. Building training guides for each task.
  2. Combining your training guides in one manual.
  3. Adding additional sections as necessary, such as an overview, training materials, additional resources or goals.

To build your training guides you can take screenshots, record your screen or use a tool like Scribe to generate step-by-step guides for each process.

‎Once you've captured your guides, go to Scribe Pages.

‎With Pages, you can combine your guides, then use AI to build the rest of your training manual.

Make sure you understand your audience and your goal for them. Everything about your content should work to help them achieve that goal.

More often than not, your materials are guided by strategy and supported by people and tools. Sometimes there's a cost, but you can count on maximum ROI if you have a well-defined goal.

When you invest in developing an engaging training manual, you can use it to support hundreds or even thousands of workers.

Step 5. Deliver, track progress & collect feedback

Share your training manual with all relevant audiences. This process depends on the tool you use.

With Scribe, you can easily share via a quick link, embed in any tool or export into PDF, Confluence or Markdown.

Team members with Scribe accounts can also access all training documentation you share with them through their dashboard.

No matter how you share, remember to make your training manual as easy to access and use as possible.

Start collecting feedback early. This might be in the form of a survey or support channel. Based on responses, you can investigate potential issues and room for expansion. Set KPIs for training to measure the effectiveness of your manual.

A learning management system is one of the most effective approaches for storing manuals and resources in a centralized location. You can also use the tool to delegate the information to your staff members and monitor how they use it. 

Step 6: Review & update content

After considering these insights on making your manual even better, you may want to consider updating it to:

  • Add more useful content.
  • Refine the design.
  • Change the format.

Thoroughly audit your manual to maintain its usefulness and continued relevance. Systems, products and features are always improving—your resources have to evolve with them.

We know updates can be time-consuming (and frankly, exhausting). Take advantage of digital automation by investing in tools that remove the need for manual labor.

Either way, be careful to maintain the source files for your work so that you can go back and make any necessary changes.

How a training manual benefits employees

Employee training manuals support your team with concise information showing them what they need to do the job. Here are a few key points on why you need one.

1. Inform employees of training programs

Address all training-related questions at once. Provide a list of all available courses, educational materials and FAQs. The more details you provide, the better.

Make it clear which courses are required and which are elective. For example, compliance and technical training are usually must-haves, while soft skills are typically optional. Depending on the size of your company, you might want to categorize training documentation and courses by department. That way, employees can focus on the information that matters most to them.

2. Create & maintain transparency in your training

Training documents set the standard for how things are done. It's a roadmap built by several teams to support ongoing staff training.

With a well-defined training program, everyone knows what they can do and how much training they're entitled to.

Introducing new SOPs for training shouldn't be left to word-of-mouth referrals from coworkers in another division. To create trust and honesty with your employees, be open and transparent in all parts of the business.

3. Reinforce a lifelong learning environment

If your company already has a training guide of some sort, you know training is integral to your work environment. Well-structured manuals can support any member of your team.

Start your employee onboarding process by informing your new team members about the importance of learning and growth at your company. Employees who strongly agree they have a clear strategy for their professional growth are 3.5 times more likely to say their onboarding process was excellent.

Include a manual in your company's employee handbook to remind your staff that learning and growth are always accessible. Your employee training manual will be the glue that holds training together if it's easy to access in an up-to-date knowledge base.

4. Streamline onboarding

Companies with a good onboarding process increase new recruit retention by 82 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent.

When a new employee joins the company, the HR department is swamped with onboarding documents and, more importantly, planning activities for orientation and onboarding. You've probably heard that the honeymoon phase for new recruits generally ends quickly. When it comes to onboarding new employees, you'd best do it correctly.

New workers, HR and management all benefit from a reliable source of truth. A training manual helps new recruits adapt to their roles and supports them with ongoing job training.

5. Lessen the employee workload

If everyone has access to your best practices, they're empowered to do the job well. This reduces the number of repeat questions that pull your subject matter experts away from their jobs and declutter HR's inbox. Let current employees focus on developing strategies and supporting ongoing growth.

6. Make fewer costly mistakes

The potential cost of noncompliance is HUGE. No employee wants to be caught in the cross-fires of a colossal mistake. Prepare them with the rules and procedures that can prevent major mishaps. A detailed training manual is the first step to maintaining proper training processes.

Training manual FAQs

Got questions? We've compiled a list of FAQs and answers to help you create your manual.

What's the purpose of a training manual?

A training manual is a set of instructions that help employees perform tasks at the highest level of precision. You can create them in various formats tailored to suit a particular job function's learning and working styles. 

Many workplaces deliver manuals to employees digitally as electronic files, visual walkthroughs created with screen capture and recording software, video tutorials and more. 

Who is the target audience for the training manual?

The sky's the limit! All industries and employees will benefit from training manuals and other training documents. When you're ready to define your audience, here are a few strategic departments to focus on:

  • Operations teams.
  • Customer-facing teams.
  • Sales ops & enablement teams.
  • HR and Learning & Development teams.
  • IT teams.

You can also use the topic you want to focus on to help you determine the audience. You can start with one of these common areas:

  • Train teammates.
  • Train customers.
  • Onboard new hires.
  • Implement tools.
  • Create process documentation.

What is the expected outcome of the training manual?

Training guides and manuals help employees complete tasks following a specified quality standard.  

  • Identify and overcome process bottlenecks.
  • Provide a reference your team can turn to for a process refresher. 
  • Give comprehensive answers to the most common FAQs.
  • Communicate details in a standardized way
  • Improve task efficiency and quality.
  • Empower your team to complete tasks independently and confidently.
  • Create a culture of efficiency that people can depend on, leading to higher trust in your brand.

Who will be responsible for delivering the training manual?

Use digital collaboration tools like Airtable, Scribe, or Notion to store your manuals as editable files instead of PDFs that are difficult to amend.

With digital documentation tools, you can use advanced sharing features—like saving documents as links that live until you choose to delete them. 

When you make training manuals with Scribe and Scribe Pages, you can even embed them into other tools in your team’s technology stack, like Hubspot, ClickUp, or WordPress. 

How will the training manual be evaluated?

Get your team involved in the manual creation process! Hold feedback sessions regularly at team meetings or stand-ups where you ask your team questions like:

  • Are you running into any issues with how processes are done? 
  • Are there any tools or workflows you would like more clarity on? 
  • Has your quality of work lately been impacted by inconsistencies or errors related to workplace procedures and systems? 
  • Would you like to get more detailed walkthroughs or instructions on any tasks you’ve been assigned recently? 

How do I create a training manual in Word?

Create a training handbook in Word by following these simple steps.

  • Select New from the File menu in Microsoft Word.
  • Make a selection by double-clicking on the Books folder. Double-click on the Other Books folder.
  • Simply double-click on the Professional Manual Template.

You can also customize the user manual template in Microsoft Word. 

Training manuals make better teams

The sooner you write a training manual, the sooner you'll see improvements in employee productivity, results and even retention.

Use a training manual to outline your best practices and establish ongoing education and professional development.

Build your own training manual with our step-by-step guide, or take advantage of a tool like Scribe to generate training manuals in minutes.

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