The Lost Genre of Owner’s Manuals | Teen Ink

The Lost Genre of Owner’s Manuals

March 7, 2019
By Anonymous

Owner’s manuals are a unique type of genre.  They are not meant for entertainment or academic use, but to familiarize owners with their products.  Owner’s manuals are meant to teach the owner of a product the proper use of the vehicle so everyone can understand.  The authors of these manuals do this though the use of language, logos, organization, and visual aids.

Many factors have to be used in a way that work well together in order to create a well put together owner’s manual.  The setting is a crucial point of emphasis in this process.  Owner’s manuals for vehicles are generally used while the person is still in the vehicle when they need to quickly figure out a problem.  If the manual is not able to allow the user to find their solution on the fly than it has been poorly constructed.  An easy to navigate table of contents is one of the most important parts of the manual, the user needs to be able to quickly find the section they need so they can solve their problem.  The participants are straightforward, the owner of the vehicle (the person using the manual) and the employees of the company who write the manuals (the author).  The employees must be extremely familiar with the car so they can cover all functions when the manual is written.  The purpose or motive of an owner’s manual is informing the user of how to properly use different features of their new vehicle as quickly and easily as possible.  Not every car owner has a vast knowledge on how cars work, so a manual that simplifies everything as much as possible can be extremely useful.  This is where the use of different rhetorical devices can make the manual extremely easy to use

Many rhetorical devices are used in an owner’s manual, but four of the most important are the use of language, logos, organization, and visual aids.  The use of language is key in creating a useful owner’s manual.  Like I previously stated, not everyone has a vast knowledge about cars so the vocabulary used must be pretty basic.  The manual is meant to be used by all kinds of people so the authors have to assume that the person reading does not know anything about cars.  If someone more advance is reading it, they are not going to struggle with a basic manual.  If the manual is advanced, someone with a basic knowledge of cars will not be able to use the manual.

 Logos is also important in the writing process.  When explain how to use certain features in the vehicle, the explanations and instructions have to be logical.  For example, in order to turn on the radio, the operator must hit the power button, if they wish to turn it off, simply hit the power button again.  A car would not be designed where the operator must roll down the window for the radio to turn on, that would be extremely illogical.  

Organization is key in making an owner’s manual easy to use.  The use of organization and sentence structure has a profound impact on the ability for users to locate and fix a problem with their vehicle efficiently.  All the functions of the interior of the car are placed in the same section, how to fix simple problems under the hood are in another.  The table of contents usually is laid out where the very simple functions, like how to turn the car on and what the key looks like, are placed at the very beginning of the manual.  

 Visual aids are one of the most important features of the manual itself.  The operator most likely will not be able to identify everything just by looking at it.  Diagrams are used so the reader can not only read about the part of the vehicle, but they can see exactly where it is located and what it looks like.  This also opens possibilities for different types of learners.  Not everyone is good at reading information to learn something, sometimes it is more effective for people to look at diagrams and see how things are done to learn them.

 The style of writing is in this genre is key to achieving the goal of informing the user at an efficient rate.  Owner’s manuals are a different style of genre because there is no voice in the writing.  It sounds robotic most of the time because of the instructional nature of the genre.  The purpose of this genre is not inform the reader on how to solve a problem, so it is not supposed to be personable at all.  Writing in a certain genre was previously viewed as a cookie cutter type process where the author had to follow a cut and dry process (Dirk 251).  This is the process for genres like an owner’s manual where there is no voice.  It is meant to be robotic and very straightforward.  This is not the precedent for all genres though.  Different types of poetry or personal letters can vary depending on the specific topic they are talking about.  Even though they are the same genre they can branch off into different ways of discussing a topic. 

When trying to identify what rhetorical devices are being used effectively in a certain genre the context of the writing is important to identify.  The reader has to be able to not only identify what genre they are reading, but what the context of the piece of writing is (Bolin 48).  Context is also understanding who the audience is going to be when the piece is being written.  This will cause the author to have to deal with some restraints like certain vocabulary they use or sentence structure. 

Genre is an ever expanding and diverse umbrella that all the types of literature we read every day fall under.  Certain genres require different styles and voices in their writing, like having no voice for an owner’s manual.  Each genre has a purpose, in this case to inform owners at an efficient rate of how to solve different problems with their vehicle.  Without the careful use of various rhetorical devices, these genres would not be able to achieve their goals.


 Genre Fake

                                                     Driving 101

Before Driving

  Proper Certification

Before operating a motor vehicle, the operator must have the proper certification to do so.  A test must be passed showing that the operator has proficient skills in basic operating functions such as parking, driving in reverse and other things.  Even though most people driving a vehicle have their license, it will seem as if no one else on the road is competent to operate a motor vehicle.  This feeling is common among new drivers, the feeling will only get intensified from this point forward, this feeling is commonly referred to as ‘road rage’.


Seat/Mirror Adjustments

     Make sure the driver’s seat is in a comfortable position for the operator to drive, do not try to make adjustments while operating the motor vehicle.  Having the seat in the correct position will not only keep the operator more comfortable, but it will also help prevent the operator from pressing either pedal too abruptly.  The rearview mirror and side mirrors should also be adjusted to the operators liking before the operator begins driving.  This is important for the safety of the passengers in the vehicle and safety of other drivers.  If the mirrors are not in a correct placement an accident will likely occur.



     The radio should be turned on prior to the operator driving the vehicle if he/she wishes to listen to music.  If the station must be changed, or song must be switched, do so at a red light or stop, not while driving.  The radio should not be played at high volumes, the speakers will most likely be ruined, and it will make it much harder to hear emergency vehicles when they are close to the vehicle.  Listening to the radio at high volumes also will prohibit the operator from hearing potential problems with their vehicle.


While Driving


     While driving, you are meant to do one thing and one thing only, drive.  Distractions are common with new drivers.  Use of a cell phone is not only illegal and dangerous, but annoying.  Many drivers drive well below the speed limit and swerve when they are on the phone.  Most of the other drivers on the road do not have time to waste and have places to be.  The phone can wait until after driving the vehicle.


Turn Signals

     The use of turn signals seems to have disappeared.  The knob on the left hand side of the steering wheel, that is used to turn on the headlights, moves up and down.  If the knob is shifted up, the right turn signal is turned on.  If this is turned on prior to a right hand turn, and the operator looks before turning, an accident will not occur.  Use of this knob will prevent harm to the operator or other vehicles.  Make sure to check the surroundings before a turn or change of lanes occurs.  Just because the signal is on does not mean that other drivers see it or will let you go ahead of them.  Do not use the turn signals as the turn is being made, turn on the corresponding signal prior to the turn or do not use the turn signals at all.


Use of Mirrors

     While operating the motor vehicle make sure to check the rearview mirrors and side mirrors before making any turns or lane changes.  Just because a turn signal has been used does not mean that it is safe to go.  Make sure to check your surroundings and make sure that an accident will not occur before making a sudden change.


Speed Limit

     Certain areas have different speed limits; school zones are 20 miles per hour while most other roads range from 30 to 40 miles per hour.  It is safe to drive a few miles per hour over the limit, though it is not recommended to drive more than 10 miles per hour over.  Driving any faster will most likely result in a speeding ticket.  It is acceptable for a driver to drive a few miles per hour below the speed limit.  If the driver does drive slower, expect other drivers to be close behind and some may even beep.


Weather Conditions

     Certain weather conditions require drivers to drive more cautiously than usual.  It is strongly recommended to drive slower in the rain, and snow if it is experienced where the driver lives.  Rain and snow will make it much harder to stop and if the driver is going to fast hydroplaning or skidding can occur.  Very serious accidents have occurred due to these weather conditions, every driver should take extreme caution no matter their experience.



     When parking the vehicle, it is best to pull into the parking space as straight and even as possible.  Other drivers will park over lines, crooked, and in two spots, but it is best not to park like these operators.  Do not park the vehicle too far back either, it makes driving through the parking lot or parking garage much more difficult and dangerous for fellow drivers.  Be sure to lock the vehicle when it is not in use.  It is best to not leave valuables in the vehicle, but if you must, lock the vehicle.


Problems with the Vehicle

Fixing the Problem, Yourself

     If the problem that has arisen with the vehicle is relatively simple, it may be worth trying to fix yourself.  Something like replacing the windshield wipers or replacing the battery in the car is fairly simple.  If you do not feel like you have the knowledge or resources to fix the problem, do not try.  More likely than not a mistake will be made and it will cost more for a professional to fix.   


Consulting Professionals

     It is best to conduct research and gather multiple opinions regarding price and what exactly needs to be fixed with the vehicle.  It is best to go to stand alone garages rather than a larger company such as Jiffy Lube.  Jiffy Lube is good for oil changes, other than that they will try to convince the driver there are more problems with their car so they can get more money out of them.

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