Instructions for use

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Instructions for use for an emergency exit above the wing of an Airbus A320

An instruction manual or instruction manual is a collection of information for users on the safe and proper use of a product . The term “instructions for use” comes from the German translation of EN 82079-1 , which regulates the creation of instructions for use and where the term is originally English as Instructions for use . It is often used as a collective term or as a synonym for other terms such as B. Instructions for use, operating instructions, operating instructions or user manual, for which, however, there is no uniform standard or definition. There are numerous forms of instructions for use (e.g. book, folding instructions, sign, label, touch screen ). The content can also vary greatly. It can contain information about the entire product life cycle (e.g. product description, functional description, information on transport, storage, assembly, installation, commissioning, configuration, operation, maintenance, care, troubleshooting, disposal and technical data), or only parts from that. In many cases, instructions for use are not supplied in printed form, but are made available exclusively or in addition as a file on a data carrier or for downloading from the web .


Instructions for use are part of the external technical documentation and are often written by technical writers . There are editing systems for the creation in which an image database can be integrated. Translation memory software is often connected to translate the texts.

Due to today's media diversity, it can make sense to create the operating instructions with the help of XML in a layout-neutral manner . This considerably reduces the creation effort and content can be used multiple times. A media-related implementation of the information then takes place for output and presentation, e.g. B. for printing, creating a CD-ROM or for the Internet.

Legal issues

The manufacturer of a technical product has an obligation to instruct the customer , which he must fulfill by handing over instructions for use; this is therefore part of the product. If certain rules are to be observed when using, supplementing or maintaining a product in order to ensure the protection of safety and health , instructions for use in German must be included when the product is made available on the market ( Section 3 (4 ) of the Product Safety Act ). An incorrect, incomplete or incomprehensible instruction manual is a material defect - just like a fault in the product itself - and can lead to subsequent performance , withdrawal from the purchase contract or a reduction in the purchase price . In the context of product liability , incorrect instructions for use in the event of property damage or personal injury can result in a considerable financial liability risk for the person placing the product on the market . In order to minimize the manufacturer's product liability, the residual risks and their avoidance are mentioned in safety notices , warnings and product safety labels .

Legally relevant requirements for the form and content of instructions for use result from standards, guidelines and laws.

The legal linguistic usage differs from that in the applying industry: The documents mentioned are part of the instructions . Documentation in the narrower legal sense, on the other hand, only includes logs and documents about the development of a product, i.e. about development, production, testing, delivery (sweg).

Instruction manuals for vehicles

The owner's manual for a vehicle can contain a few hundred pages. In order to make the documents clearer and more user-friendly, more extensive equipment such as navigation systems, audiovisual systems or telephones are often described in separate booklets. Many operating instructions describe all possible equipment of a series. The customer then has to search out the texts and data applicable to his vehicle equipment himself, which is cumbersome and can lead to misunderstandings or even operating errors. For this reason, more and more automobile manufacturers are now handing their customers customized operating instructions in which only the equipment actually present in the vehicle is described. Some manufacturers also supply operating instructions on CD-ROM or provide information on the Internet.

Operating instructions for technical systems and machines

The instructions for setting up (assembling), operating, maintaining and repairing technical systems or machines are important for the user and are therefore part of the type test and the scope of delivery when the system or machine is handed over. It is also necessary that the system or machine is explained accordingly when it is commissioned . An incorrect, incomplete, ambiguous or incomprehensible operating manual can lead to uneconomical and improper use and represents a significant source of danger for people and property.

Instructions for use of medicines

A package insert must be enclosed with a pharmaceutical product or drug , in which a. attention is drawn to the risks and side effects of taking. The essential active ingredients, the type and dosage of ingestion must also be explained.

See also


  • Joachim Kallinich (Ed.): Read first - then switch on! To the history of the instructions for use. Museum for Post and Communication, Berlin 1997, OCLC 258210433 .
  • Jasmin Meerhoff: "Read me!" A culture and media history of the operating instructions. Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2011, ISBN 978-3-8376-1625-5 .
  • W. Herlyn: Individual operating instructions for multi-variant series products. In: magazine for economical factory operation. Vol. 100, No. 5, 2005, p. 291 ff.
  • W. Herlyn: The 'onboard' operating instructions in the motor vehicle. In: magazine for economical factory operation. Vol. 101, No. 12, 2006, p. 746 ff.
  • Carsten Schucht: Instructions for use mirrored by law, standardization, guidelines and case law. In: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift 51/2016, pp. 3681–3686.

Web links

Wiktionary: Instructions for use  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Compare Dieter Medicus : Bürgerliches Recht. A presentation for exam preparation, arranged according to the requirements. Heymanns, Cologne 1968. 23rd, revised edition with Jens Petersen : Vahlen, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-8006-3908-3 , Rnr. 287: Assuming that a defect in the instructions for use not mentioned in § 434 BGB always constitutes a material defect, the authors complain that the reimbursement of additional expenses that a buyer had for a successful assembly of the object of purchase despite inadequate instructions (incorrect assembly by third parties according to § 434 paragraph 2 BGB material defects), in the current legal version denied - because denied -.
  2. W. Herlyn: Individual instruction manual…. In: magazine for economical factory operation. No. 5, 2005, p. 291 ff.