The manual and the guide

There's a subtle difference between the manual and the guide.

The manual is meant to tell you how to use and assemble your new gadget—the very function of every single button; the place where every nut and bolt need to go.

A hand-recorder, for instance, ships with a printed booklet—a manual—that contains detailed instructions on how to use it; LEGO blocks and IKEA furniture ship with meticulous step-by-step instructions on how each of the pieces fit together. Without these detailed instructions, we would probably end up with ingenious, original combinations of the parts, but we might not get to build the shelf or toy we bought at the store.

Unless you're really familiar with hand recorders, it's unlikely you'll discover all of the capabilities your recorder is armed with without studying its manual.

The guide, however, offers advice and guidance along a given process but doesn't provide detailed instructions. No enumerated steps to follow but recommendations and tips and insights to learn from.

Guidebooks guide the tourist around a foreign country, introduce the newbie to a new activity, and educate the amateur with esoteric knowledge.

It's great to follow the manual when the equation requires precision and accuracy. (You don't want your shelf to fall apart!)

In your day to day, though, there's no need to be constrained by exact steps.

Are you following the steps in the manual or using the tips in the guide?

December 17, 2019
Nono Martínez Alonso

My sketches and stories, in your inbox.

One email per week. No spam ever.

Pencil sketch of Nono Martínez Alonso.