Noises in manuals

September 7, 2016

I purchased a new freezer this week. One of the first things I do when I get a new appliance is read the instruction manual. Yes, I know that only about 10% of the population reads an instruction manual, but I consider it a way to learn about the product AND a professional courtesy I extend to all those fellow technical writers who write them.

What made this manual different? It has a ‘noises’ table! After reading it, I think ALL appliance manuals should have one of these, if the appliance makes various noises during its operation. I know that products like UPSs have info on the various beeps and alarms, but this table listed the normal operating noises the freezer makes. So simple, and just brilliant.



  1. Rhonda – I bet they had fun deciding how to spell the noises!

  2. That’s what I thought too, Kaye!

  3. Useful information that adds value to the manual, and fresh thinking about what would help the user. I love it!

  4. I bet you’re looking for mistakes and grammar faux pas when you’re reading these manuals as “a professional courtesy.” :-)

  5. Interesting you should say that…

    There were some inconsistencies in terminology (who knew that ‘shallow freezer drawer’ [p4 and p12] and ‘freezer tray’ [p22] were the same thing?), and mention of two parts that didn’t come with my model (only one said the part depended on the model, not the other).

    I called the support line to find out if I was missing anything, and after some checking, they confirmed that the ‘shallow freezer drawer’ and ‘freezer tray’ were the same thing. However, they did say the manual had been translated from German — I would never have guessed as the structure of the English gave no hint of that at all.

    I complimented them on the good translation, and asked if they could give feedback to the tech writers about the inconsistent terminology and making sure that optional parts (depending on model) were all identified.

  6. This is brilliant! I must check whether my son’s refrigerator has this info. It has weird sounds like a cat wailing miserably or a child calling out in its sleep. He does have 3 cats and a daughter, but the mammals are definitely not the source of these noises! Perhaps it is by design? :)

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