How to Create a Training Manual (+ Free Templates)

Ankit Vora
May 15, 2022
min read
April 18, 2024
Photo credit
Learn how to create a comprehensive training manual for your team with our step-by-step guide and free templates.
Generate Process Docs Free!


Ineffective workplace training can have serious consequences like:

  • Employee confusion.
  • Reduced morale.
  • Low productivity.
  • Poor retention.
  • Customer dissatisfaction.

According to a Harvard Business University study:

  • 75 percent of managers were dissatisfied with their company’s Learning & Development function.
  • 70 percent of employees report they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs.

In short? Neglecting employee training is a mistake you can't afford to make.

The billion dollar question is: how to produce effective employee training manuals?

In this guide, I'll show you how to create comprehensive training manuals for your business.

Let's get started.

TL;DR: Training manuals

  • Training manuals provide employees with all the information and instructions needed to complete job tasks.
  • They're crucial for onboarding new employees, implementing new systems, and sharing best practices.
  • Training manuals help reduce employee workload and prevent costly mistakes.
  • Creating a training manual involves defining purpose and target audience, planning, creating content, delivering, tracking progress, collecting feedback, and updating content.
  • Use AI tools like Scribe to create effective training manuals.

What is a training manual?

A training manual is a structured and comprehensive document or resource that provides employees with the necessary information and instructions to acquire specific knowledge and skills to perform the job effectively.

It serves as a reference and learning tool to support employee training, development, and onboarding processes within an organization.

Example of a Scribe training manual
Example of a Scribe training manual

‎Training manuals are more than bulk text — they hold the processes that keep teams running.

You can create training manuals for different roles in your company to smoothly onboard new employees across different departments.

Existing employees can also use them to gain a better understanding of the company.

👀 Check out our list of the top training manual Chrome extensions to streamline your training processes and create engaging materials.

Types of training manuals (+ free templates)

Here's an intro to the different types of training manuals and free templates you can use to create comprehensive training manuals in seconds.

1. Training manual

A well-structured training manual can be tailored to meet the unique needs of any training program:

  • Develop training programs for employees or new hires.
  • Train your employees on specific skills or processes.
  • Step-by-step training on safety protocols or compliance regulations.
  • Provide ongoing professional development for employees.
  • Create training materials for a conference or seminar.

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

2. Customer service training manual

Free customer service training manual template
Free customer service training manual template

A comprehensive customer service training manual template should typically include information about your company's offerings, customer service policies and procedures, and guidelines like:

  • How to greet and engage customers.
  • How to handle common customer inquiries.
  • How to deliver personalized customer support.
  • How to transfer a customer to another department or agent‎.

✅ Try this customer service training manual template for free.

3. Task manual

Free step-by-step guide template for your training manual
Free step-by-step guide template

‎Task manuals create clear and concise instructions for any task or process.  For example, you may need a task manual for marketing and sales teams that provides step-by-step instructions for sales or campaign processes.

Try our step-by-step guide template to build visual task manuals in seconds.

4. Employee handbook and manual

Free employee handbook and manual template
Free employee handbook and manual template

Use an employee handbook to train employees on company policies and benefits. It can also provide information like how to raise invoices or work with subcontractors.‎

Create an employee handbook and manual for employees and trainees that includes:

  • Company policy.
  • Company values.
  • Company culture.
  • Company processes and procedures.

Customize this free employee handbook template in seconds.

5. New hire onboarding manual

Free new hire onboarding manual template for your training manual
Free new hire onboarding manual template

‎Create a well-structured training manual to help employees understand your day-to-day operations. Onboard new employees smoothly by providing:

  • A brief overview of the company, policies, and culture.
  • An introduction to the team.
  • Step-by-step training on processes.

Try our new hire onboarding guide template for free.

6. Quick reference manuals

Free quick reference guide template for your training manual
Free quick reference guide template

A quick reference manual outlines the most important information for a specific project, subject or product.

Download our free quick reference guide template.

7. Safety manuals

Free safety work instructions template for your training manual
Free safety work instructions template

‎Satefy manuals inform trainees and employees about safety procedures, emergency protocols, and hazard identifications.

Check out this free safety work instructions template.

8. Software manuals

Free software user manual template for your training manual
Free software user manual template

Software manuals give insights into specific tools, how to use them and other relevant information like features, troubleshooting and more.

✅ Try our software user manual template for free.

‎You can also create training manuals to help employees with:

... and more.

Check out Scribe's template gallery for 100+ free, customizable templates, or try our free training manual generator or ChatGPT training manual generator to build manuals in seconds.

Download 100+ free, customizable templates from Scribe
Get 100+ free, customizable templates in Scribe's Gallery

In the next step, we'll show to how to create an effective training manual for your business.

💡 Want to learn more? Use these 15 training manual examples to create resources for your teams and clients today.

How to write a training manual

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

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of creating a training manual from scratch:

1. Define your purpose and the target audience

The first question you must ask: What's the purpose of the training manual?

Understanding the "why" behind the training manual is important.

And once you've done that, the next step is to figure out who you're writing for.

Ask yourself: Who is my target audience? How and when will they access this manual?

This will help you understand where the readers currently stand, their expertise, needs and preferences.

For example, if you're creating a training manual for senior sales reps, you don't need to define basic sales terminologies.

But if you're creating a training manual for new junior sales employees, your purpose would include all the information they need:

The purpose of this Sales Training Manual is to empower new sales team members with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to excel in their roles within our organization.

So before you start writing, ask questions like:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • Why are they reading this?
  • What are the objectives?
  • What's their knowledge level?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • Would they benefit from longer or shorter content, e.g., a quick reference guide?
  • What type of training content works best: text, visual or video tutorial?
  • Is there anything I need to be mindful of in terms of cultural or linguistic context?

Answering these questions will help you determine how much supplementary material you need.

2. Plan your content

The next step is to plan your content. Lay out the essential elements of your training documentation and structure them strategically in a way that makes sense for users.

Organize the information in your training handbook according to different themes and topics, such as:

  • Basic to advanced topics.
  • Job aids.
  • Self-paced guides.
  • Product features.
  • Frequency of use.

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

But if you're writing a full training session, it may take some time.

This step-by-step guide template will simplify the content creation process for you.

Table of Contents for a training manual
Table of Contents for a training manual

‎When you create the content, be sure to add a summary for each section.

While planning your content, your focus is to create content that's user-friendly and engaging.

Topics should be easily accessible for new users while returning users should be able to find specific topics fast.

Some things to consider:

  • Add visual elements to keep it engaging, like charts, graphs, infographics, job aids, checklists, quizzes, etc.
  • Use color coding to differentiate sections or topics — but be mindful of accessibility guidelines to ensure everyone benefits.
  • Provide industry-specific examples and solutions.
  • Use industry-specific jargon. The needs of your IT team and HR team will be quite different, so use industry-appropriate language.
  • If your manual has a large number of subjects, create separate sections and use headers and sub-sections.
  • Implement a robust indexing and search feature that allows users to quickly find what they're looking for.

3. Determine your training manual format

The next step is to determine your format. Choose a type of training manual that's easily accessible by users and aligns with your organization's goals.

Here are some popular formats:

The format you choose will heavily depend on your topic and how your readers like to consume content.

For example, if you want to train new hires on the company's policies and procedures, it's a good idea to create a handout or internal wiki so your employees can refer to it again. In this case, it may not be a good idea to create a long video.

On the other hand, if you want to train employees how to use software, you can create step-by-step training using Scribe. Use the AI feature to write your manual for you, based on your company-specific processes.

Training manual template made with Scribe Pages
Training Manual Template made with Pages

Many workplaces deliver training materials to employees digitally as self-pace guides, visual walkthroughs, video tutorials and more.

4. Create the content

Now, it's time to put it all together. How you create content depends on the format of your training content.

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

The content creation 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 or record your screen — or use a process documentation tool like Scribe to auto-generate step-by-step guides for each process.

Use Scribe to generate step-by-step guides for each process.
Use Scribe to generate step-by-step guides for each process

Scribe's AI-powered training manual software creates a training manual in half the time. You can capture any process to generate step-by-step training and then use AI to write a full-length manual.‎

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

Use Scribe Pages to write your training manual
Scribe Pages

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

Ask AI to create training manual using Scribe Pages
Ask AI to create a training manual in Scribe Pages

 The best part? Scribe's AI automatically creates training manuals based on your company-specific processes.

5. Deliver, track progress & collect feedback

Now you're ready to 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.

Share training manual with one click
Share training manual

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

If your team needs help with a particular tool, just open Sidekick. You can see every relevant Scribe and Page created by your teammates or other community members.

Scribe Sidekick opens side-by-side in any tool so users can access training manuals
Users can access training manuals with Scribe Sidekick

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

Once you've rolled out your training manuals, it's important to collect feedback about it. This might be in the form of a survey or support channel. With Scribe, users can leave feedback directly in your internal training manual.

Scribe makes it easy to collect feedback from users to update your training manual
Collect feedback from users on your training manual

‎Based on responses, you can investigate potential issues and identify areas where they could be improved.

Set KPIs for training and review analytics to measure the effectiveness of your manual.

6. Review & update content

After considering these insights, you may want to consider updating it to:

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

It's a good practice to continuously update manuals to make sure they're always relevant.

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.

Digital automation tools save time by removing the need for manual updates.

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

You can also create other types of training and development manuals, like specialized training manuals for advanced skill development:

📌 Related resource: Free Training Manual Software to Boost Knowledge Retention

How a training manual benefits your company

Employee training manuals support your team with detailed information they need to do the job.

Here are a few key points on how manuals benefit your company:

1. Inform employees of training programs

Training manuals offer clear instructions that help employees perform tasks at the highest level of precision.

  • Provide guidelines and instructions in different formats or tailored to a particular job function.
  • Address all training-related questions at once.
  • Highlight which courses are required and which are elective. For example, compliance and technical training are usually must-haves, while soft skills are typically optional.
  • Categorize training documentation and courses by department — so employees can focus on the information that matters most.

2. Create & maintain transparency in your training

Training documents set the standard for how things are done.

Introducing new SOPs (standard operating procedures) for training shouldn't be left to word-of-mouth from coworkers.

With a well-defined training program, everyone knows how much training they can access.

Creating training manuals also supports individual professional development, helping you:

  • Improve employee effectiveness, competency and satisfaction.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and self-reliance.

3. Reinforce a lifelong learning environment

If your company already has a training guide or employee training manual, you know a well-constructed training manual supports any member of your team.

Start your employee onboarding process by informing new team members about the importance of learning and growth. A Gallup workplace survey showed that employees who strongly agree they have a clear strategy for professional growth are 3.5 times more likely to say their onboarding process was excellent.

Include a manual in your employee handbook to teach employees that learning and growth are always accessible.

4. Streamline onboarding

Companies with a good onboarding process increase new recruit retention by 82 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent, according to this Brandon Hall Group research brief.

When a new employee joins the company, HR is swamped with onboarding documents, orientation and onboarding activities.

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

5. Lessen the employee workload

If everyone has access to best practices, they're empowered to do the job well. This reduces the amount of frequently asked questions that pull HR and subject matter experts away from their jobs. A comprehensive guide for employees helps them focus on developing strategies and supports ongoing growth.

6. Reduce errors

The potential cost of noncompliance is HUGE. No employee wants to be caught in the crossfire of a colossal error. Teach employees 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

Who is the target audience for the training manual?

All industries and employees benefit from training manuals and other training documents. 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 to help you determine your target audience:

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

What's the first page of a training manual?

To create an effective training manual, the first page should be an introduction that provides these essential elements:

  • A table of contents.
  • A brief overview of the company.
  • The manual's purpose.
  • The tone for the training process.
  • A clear introduction.

Who will deliver the training manual?

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

Digital documentation tools offer advanced sharing features—like saving documents as links.

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

What's the difference between a training manual and a handbook?

While training manuals and handbooks both benefit your company, they are different:

  • A training manual provides detailed step-by-step instructions to ensure employees understand and follow procedures accurately and efficiently.
  • An employee handbook communicates company policies, reducing liability risks for both the employer and employees.

Conclusion: Create training manuals fast

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 sign up for Scribe today and generate your first training manual in minutes!

Ready to try Scribe?

Scribe automatically generates how-to guides and serves them to your team when they need them most. Save time, stay focused, help others.