Convert Training Manual to Digital Beauty

Aug 16, 2013

I have a 500-page training manual that accompanies my Articulate Presenter courses. I'm thinking about converting that guide into an app-like experience using Storyline... maybe?? Any thoughts, tips, or suggestions would be appreciated!

14 Replies
Steve Flowers

It's a lot of work to rebuild into something that in many cases is less efficient / effective. I love the idea of creating companions or embedding explanations in interactives inline within an HTML structure. You might consider building your manual in hypertext and embedding interactives and videos.

Ari Avivi

In a similar situation here,

We looked at the training manual and tried to decide what were we trying to accomplish in each chapter and make modules for each one.  The content wasn't specifically linked ( page reference etc) to the manual but suppored the learning outcomes.

It's a digital world who just reads anymore?


Bob S

Hi Kim,

With that much content (500 pages... yikes!), I'm guessing there is a level of detail there that doesn't lend itself well to e-learning.

If it's important to have that reference document available, certainly a PDF as an attachment can work. But to your point, kinda long and boring that way.

Have you considered one of the Flash-based flipbook programs as an alternative?  They turn PDFs into animated books, and the better ones allow all sorts of cool features like DynamicTable of Contents, Page Edge Tabs, Multi-media Embedding, etc, plus the output can be rendered in a variety of ways to make it web-page compatible (even HTML5) or stand-alone.

We used to use KviSoft's software for this for a while. Then recently upgraded to E-page Creator's really really nice software.

Hope this helps,


PS: SUPER easy to convert your existing documents this way. It's all automatic and takes just a couple of minutes typically.

Kim Dion

Great responses, everyone.

Currently our new associates get a paper copy of the training manual, and I make the pdf available too, but it is clunky and definitely not fun to read/search on a smart phone.

I'm open to a flipbook, but in considering the great apps that are out there (LinkedIn, Goodreads, FaceBook are a few of my favorites), I'm really trying to blow up my content and make it simple to get to their desired information in no more than four taps.

Historically, our learners have been instructed to read a chapter in the manual and then view the accompanying recording. More and more I'm questioning whether they are even reading the material. I see them viewing the recording, taking the quiz, and skipping strait to the next recording. In a way, I'm okay with that if I can create a great performance support tool for them that takes the 500 pages and turns it into a user-friendly app experience rather than a traditional slog through pages and pages of material (dental insurance no less!)

Bob S

Hi Kim,

I understand you may want more a true application... but did want to clarify that some of the better flipbook tools do allow for Content Search, Dynamic Table of Contents, Visual Index/Page Tabs, and publish to HTML5 or.... an App format.

In any case, good luck. Would love to hear where you land.


Vasily Ingogly

You also might want to look at converting it to EPUB format, which can be read/converted by most e-reader apps. I personally do not like flipbooks at all, all I want in an ebook is the ability to bookmark, search, and a TOC to locate sections of the book. I don't need to "pretend" I'm paging through a book.

If it were me, I'd consider converting the training manual into a reference manual and move everything that's redundant with your courses into a handout or set of handouts that accompany the course. The reference manual is the one that you want to be searchable/usable on all platforms.

Steve Flowers

Great advice, Vasily.

There are quite a few tools available to build EPUB's. If you want something a bit more robust for EPSS organization, you might consider a tool like Madcap Flare. It's expensive but offers multiple publish pathways including an HTML native, EPUB, and PDF output. If you're doing a lot of these, having a tool that handles all of the cross-linking and tagging is a big time saver. 

I really like what Apple did with the iBooks Author tool. Rich widgets are potentially really powerful. I *hate* that they made the most powerful output into a proprietary package relegated to run only on iPads. You *can* use IBA to build EPUB format documents. But I believe it's a cut down version of EPUB2, which isn't as fantastic as EPUB3 (which I don't think is "standards ready" or widely used). 

You might try Sigil for simpler EPUB2 packaged outputs. If most of your output is text-based and rich media isn't a concern, EPUB is a fantastic target. If you want something with more flexibility, you're going to want to find a fully featured HTML tool (and you'll need some Web Dev skills if you want to make it dance).

Vasily Ingogly

Yeah, I was excited to try out iBooks Author but lost interest due to the limitations. What I wish they'd do is continue offering the current version free, but create a "Deluxe" or "Pro" version that provides a full version of EPUB as an export option.  Or a separate for-pay version that doesn't include the iBooks integration and just supports EPUB. I'd pay good $$ for the latter.

Steve McAneney

Hi. I don't have experience with courses that include both e-learning and a training manual. However, once upon a time I started developing an e-learning to supplement a training manual (for software), then just threw away the training manual. Because it was a software course, obviously the content lent itself to e-learning. 

I think it depends on your content. You might be able to rebuild the e-learning so it shows an outline of what to do, when, and the detailed references for any decision making required would be in the manual. In other words, the e-learning is the "this is what it is" or "this is what you do/how it works" and the manual would be the specifications, or rules. I don't see any need to convert the manual to digital format, but it might need reorganising into a more search friendly format. 

Does that make sense?

J Joynt

Hi - Just wondering, four years later, which tools you used to convert to EPUB format. I dont need flip-pages either,  but want to create malleable, editable digital document Reference Manual for our small business, that we can continually edit as details of running things change all the time. 

Thank you!

andrella thomas

I have leveraged interactive tab ppt templates for this.(found on e-learning brothers a while back) Things change so frequently around here! I simply linked pages to an internal repository where the same content is stored and updated regularly. Less updating needed on my end. It works for internal new hire training guides that will be used repeatedly.