The usability of your Tally Books depends on the accuracy of the information they contain. These pocket-sized books are more than a tool to record data offshore. They’re a reference that contains essential safety information to help your staff manage workplace risks.
In these localised data libraries, details matter and omissions can slow down processes and have a detrimental effect on the efficiency of your employees.
Since your staff rely on the data and knowledge contained in their notebooks they carry with them, it’s essential that you keep things as clear as possible. To help you achieve this goal, we’ve created the Complete Guide to Writing useful Tally Books.
Before Writing Your Content
Creating and writing an effective Tally Book requires you to have a strategy in place, even if you don’t create the content from scratch. In most cases, these notebooks contain in-house information that already exists. So, you should worry less about what to write and focus more on how to organise the data, to keep things comfortable for the users.
Planning is crucial for making sure you only keep the relevant information. With the right questions, you can prioritise and give your employees the right details, in the correct order.
- Who will handle the Tally Book?
- Which processes will the Tally Book be used for?
- What safety information do users need?
- In which working environments will your employees use the notebook?
Generic answers to these questions won’t help you nail the content. Identify the exact teams that need the book and the processes they’re responsible for. The more you know about the users and their pain points, the easier it becomes to give them the right instructions.
When the content in the Tally Book has clear goals, you’re more likely to choose the right information to print in your notebook.
Follow the Workflows
From key procedures and policies to health and safety data, all the essential information should be organised logically inside your Tally Books, to maintain consistent workflows in complete safety.
You don’t want your technicians going back and forth through the Tally Book looking for the page they need. That’s why the order of your pages is crucial when planning your content.
Keep information aligned with the processes that employees follow. This way, they know where to look for the data they need in seconds. Furthermore, write all the instructions and safety procedures in chronological order, to avoid missed steps and confusion in the field.
The most important information should always come first in health and safety documents. This way, people are more likely to get the information they need in time, in case of a hazard.
Speak The Same Language As Your Staff
Tally Books are for internal use only, so it makes sense to write them using the terminology that your employees use on a regular basis. Use technical terms that your specialists are familiar with, according to the company’s rules and the industry standards.
For this type of technical content, simple is better. Choose everyday words to express simple concepts — “use” instead of “utilise”, “now” and not “at this point”, or “stop smoking” rather than “cease from smoking”. Avoid acronyms and abbreviations that can create confusion among users. Contractions can minimise the importance of some instructions. Using “do not” instead of “don’t” can help you to send a stronger message to your teams.
Keep sentences short and to the point. Also, always use the active voice to give instructions — “wear gloves” instead of “gloves are to be worn”. The verbs you use should express the exact actions that people should do in specific situations.
Design With Your Users in Mind
Tally Books are pocket-sized notebooks, so choosing the right layout can become a challenge. You should make good use of your space, without overcrowding pages.
When you design your hazard observation pads, golden rules, or any other page to include in your tally book, you need to create documentation that is easy to read and digest.
White space, headings and subheadings, bullets and lists can help you divide the information in small chunks, making the text easier to scan. You can include small symbols and images to underline the key messages and make them easier to understand, for example.
10 Easy Design Rules for Tally Books
- Use larger fonts to mark important information instead of underlining it.
- Every paragraph should send a single message.
- Align text to the left margin.
- Use standard fonts, such as Verdana, Arial, or Calibri.
- Write the entire document with the same font.
- Limit the number of colours.
- Don’t use coloured text because it’s harder to read than black/ white.
- Don’t write entire sentences in capital letters.
- Keep the usage of bold and italics to a minimum.
- Use the same layout for all the pages of the Tally Book.
Final Words on Writing Effective Tally Books
The information in your Tally Books should always be up-to-date. Review your health and safety documentation regularly, to make sure your employees are getting the most out of their notebooks.
Discuss the content with employees, ask them for feedback, and use their ideas and directions to improve your Tally Books. This way, you make sure that your documentation works well for your team members and it’s relevant for their duties and responsibilities.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Tally Books, click here.