How to Make a Desk Manual
We all like to think we're irreplaceable but, let's face it, keeping information organised in such a manner
that a temp can come in to your desk or department and perform is the mark of a true office
professional. One of the best ways to organise information for those you support, and therefore those
who might be sitting at your desk one day completely clueless, is a little known document called the
But What is it?
A desk manual is just that Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a document that gives a temporary replacement enough
information to be productive. After all, every company has their own way of doing things and ensuring a
temporary replacement is able to work effectively speaks volumes about the person who left the manual
behind "just in case".
Formatting Your Manual
If you're a ringed binder kind of person then, by all means, go ahead. We've seen them in notebooks,
binders, and spiral bound books, the format you decide to use is generally up to you, but here's where it
shouldn't be: in the computer Ã¢â‚¬â€œ at least not exclusively.
Why not? Because in most cases your replacement won't even have a login password. This is one case
where electronic isn't better, though you should certainly keep your master document in electronic
format for easy revision. (And if this will be your first desk manual, there will be revisions aplenty!
Use tabs, title pages, and table of contents. You can make your desk manual as elaborate as you like.
However, what is really important is that the information it holds is clearly organised and easy to cross-
Start at the Beginning
It's really not so hard to figure out what goes in a good desk manual. Recall your first day on the job?
Start a list of the things you didn't know on that first day, add to it the things you've implemented since
you took your position and finish off with corporate standards. Font sizes, memo templates, the location
of logo files, should all be within easy reach of someone who's fill