The future is so last millenium. The pace has quickened, your time is more precious, there are only 22 hours in a day, and people are releasing their pet pythons into the Everglades. We are now in the post-future era, folks. Things have changed and so have you.
Just as with engraved plates, and hand-set type, the day of the printed user manual may already be behind us, but we don't know. We, technical writers, just don't know...not for sure anyway...and we want to know: Do our customers still want a printed users manual? This question keeps us up nights.
A table of contents provides a visual representation of topics. An index offers a finer-grained method to find the information you seek. However, internet search engines have changed us; changed the way we look for information. Think "Google it." Even when we open PDF on our computer, the fastest path to the information we want is the little search box.
The printed manual question isn't the end, though. How do you like your information served. There's lots of technology available to produce many different content delivery methods. So tell us: