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Advice needed for house manual


It is worth mentoring that with any written material it is very important to put some time into its design. Is it easy to read? Is the typeface easy to look at? Is there enough white space? Is it edited down to the essentials? Is it organized is a comprehensible way? It is all about the art of Information Design.


@CatskillsGrrl - if you don’t mind my asking - what’s your favorite font?


Sorry. Commenting on the 35 page house manual. Not meant to be read cover to cover, but for reference only, I am guessing. However, I started doing one, alphabetical, and it started getting very long. I think I will take on some of the suggestions and do one for important ‘should read’ info, one for attractions and one for restaurants.


Getting personal now. :stuck_out_tongue:


I have an entire document on transportation options. There’s light rail, the monorail, the bus, Car2Go, ReachNow, Uber, Lyft, regular taxis, Lime Bike, Spin Bike. It can be confusing.


Times is the easiest for people to read (recognize letters). I tend to go for a serif that’s less boring or a san serif with a bit of personality but is still easy to read. Think Garamond or Optima. If you’re trying to put a lot of information on a page, keep in mind some fonts will take up more space than others.


Wow Fahed I love your manual!!! I think I’ll copy you if I may - that’s just brilliant.


I have my guide available electronically and I leave a printed copy in guest’s room for their use.

Guests say this is really useful both in case they can’t get online for whatever reason and because they like to make notes on the guide to personalise it for their needs.


Printed and PDF. Guest feedback has been great.


My house manual has wi-fi instructions on the cover. :slightly_smiling_face:


Great Topic. Thank you, Fahed, for starting it and providing a great template that I might tap,

I have found that my guests prefer a hard copy. While I do walk people though the manual when they arrive (if they don’t opt for self-checkin), it is a handy reference for when they actually need the information.

I place it in binder, along with a notepad, pen, and some local maps.
I have it categorized (Technology, Kitchen, Bathroom, Etc) to speed access to the specifics that might be sought when needed (i.e. Departure Instructions).

Included is a separate manual for local interests (restaurants, grocery stores, museums, etc), which I also offer to send a PDF before the guest arrives, should they want to make plans / reservations beforehand.

Both were written using MS Word, allowing me to update it as needed. Using photos allows me to minimize the written instructions. Some pics attached.

1.for use herein I have airbrushed out passwords, address, phone #’s.
2.before the guest arrives I will message arrival, parking, and gate code instructions.


As a complete contrast tu the above, I thought I’d show you the “House Manual” we received at our Airbnb stay in Cape Town last month …

Lovely apartment, but, erm, a bit short on the information …


How is this? It’s directly from the online version of my manual. The hard copy will obviously have better formatting. Does it sound like I’m insulting their intelligence? I know appliances and heating systems vary across the world? Does it sound like I’m the guests’ nanny?

-There is an emergency information sheet attached to the front of the fridge.

-The first aid kit is in the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom.

-A fire extinguisher is located under the kitchen sink.

-There is a flashlight in the middle drawer under the TV.

-There are two parking places in the driveway and free street parking. In the event of heavy snow, the town requires all cars to be moved off the streets in order to allow access for the plows.

-If you are not used to gas stoves, please be careful. A gas smell means the burner did not ignite properly. Do make sure all burners are turned off immediately (12 o’clock position.) Wait until the gas smell is completely gone before turning on the burner or oven again. Gas stoves burn hotter and heat more quickly than electric. It’s best to start with medium to medium-high heat. Flames coming up the side of the pan are a sign that you need to either move the pan to a smaller burner, use a bigger pan or turn the heat down. If you are having trouble getting the pilot light to ignight, you can light it manually with a utility lighter. It’s on the shelf above the plates. Do not turn on the gas until you are ready with the lighter. The lighter should be kept out of the reach of children at all times and used for no other purpose. We do not allow the burning of candles or incense in the house.

-The switch for the extractor fan is located to the right of the sink. It’s a good idea to use the fan for high-heat frying or spicy cooking.

-Baking equipment is in the bottom drawer next to the sink and in the drawer under the oven.

-There are small appliances such as a blender, mixer, Instant Pot and food processor in the cabinet under the TV and in the one above the fridge. Please consult the manuals included with the hard copy of this guide, if you are not familiar with how the appliance work.

-It is important to be especially careful with the pressure cooker function on the Instant Pot. Again, please read the instructions before proceeding.

-Plastic wrap and aluminum foil are in the top drawer under the TV.

-Placemats, napkins and extra dish towels are in the middle drawer under the TV.

-Spices are in the cabinet to the left of the stove.

-There is no garbage disposal in the sink. Please refrain from putting food down the drain.

-The only detergent that should be used in the the dishwasher is Cascade. It’s in pod form and located in a glass jar next to the sink.

-Extra toilet paper is under the sink in the upstairs bathroom and on the shelf above the trash can in the downstairs utility closet.
-Please only flush toilet paper and nothing else, including baby wipes, paper towels etc. (See below)
-A plunger is located in the downstairs utility closet

Tap water in Princeton is drinkable. If you would prefer filtered water, there is a filtering pitcher inside the fridge. The water and ice dispensed from the outside of the fridge door are also filtered.

The thermostat is directly under the TV. You turn it to the right to make it warmer. When the heat is on, the windows should be closed. When you check out, please set the thermostat to 60 degrees.

There is a card next to the remote on the coffee table. It explains how to use the “smart” TV in more detail. The basic procedure is to first turn on the whole system by pressing the red power button on the remote. Next, press the home button in the center of the remote. It looks like a house. That should bring you to a screen with all of the smart TV options , such as Netflix. Finally, use the arrow buttons to move around. Use the the OK button to make selections. Use the back and home buttons if you need to start over. Volume can be controlled directly from this remote. This is the only way to watch TVsince there is no network televison or cable.

Postal workers deliver the mail to the box next to the front door. It’s fine to just leave it there. We will collect it when we get home.

There are units in the bedroom and living room windows May through October. They are controlled individually, not through the thermostat. If you leave the house for the day, kindly help us conserve resources by turning the units off or leaving them set to energy saver mode. All the windows in the house should be closed when any AC unit is in use.

The trash can is located in the small utility closet off the downstairs hall. Extra bags are available on the shelf above the trash can. If the can gets full during your stay, you can bring the bags to the outside bins. They are on the east side of the house.

Recycling bins are located outside, to the the right of the kitchen door. It’s single steam, so no need to separate items.

We do not charge a cleaning fee. We would hope that you would tidy up after yourselves and use common sense. If you need to clean up any spills, supplies are under the kitchen sink. Please throw all food scraps in the trash can and rinse off grease and crumbs from the dishes before checking out. Thank you!

We provide shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, bar soap and hand soap in both bathrooms. If you forget another toiletry item, there may be a spare in the bowl located in the top drawer in the downstairs bathroom.

Please help yourself! There is a French press and an electric coffeemaker. The electric coffeemaker works with a reusable gold toned filter, which is located in the top part of the machine. Paper filters are not necessary. The half and half and milk in the fridge are for your use.

in the downstairs bedroom closet, along with an ironing board.

in the top drawer in the downstairs bathroom

-12PM noon is the check-out time. Late check-outs will incur an extra charge. Please message us through the app when you are about to leave.
-There is no need to strip the beds or start the dishwasher. Please do make sure food scraps are rinsed off the dishes, though. We hope you enjoyed your stay and have a pleasant trip back home.


Without knowing what’s in your listing it’s hard to comment @GardenGnome

However I think personally the level of detail is good.

However unless you are only targeting the US market, I would remove the US centric content such as ‘half and half’, ‘closet’ ‘French press’ and ‘trash’.


Your paragraph on gas cooker safety is long but correct and necessary. Doesn’t it make you want to put in an induction hob instead?


Personally no @Jess1

I love my gas cooker.

And I don’t enjoy cooking on an induction hob :slight_smile:


Me too, but I am petrified of guests using gas cookers. Most landlords don’t have gas cookers. (Did I reply to you by mistake instead of garden gnome?)


What are the British English equivalents?

Rubbish? Garbage?
Wardrobe. (This means a stand alone piece of furniture in the US. Closet is used for spaces that are built into the room)

Half and half? Not sure of another word for this. Cream? It’s not exactly cream though.

The first three bookings I have are Americans, but we do get a lot of international visitors in town since there is a university here. Based on my research, I am likely to get some Chinese guests in the summer months. They like to come stay in town and enroll their kids in nearby day camps.


I am talking about finding words that are accessible to non English speakers, not that are an English alternative :slight_smile:

Why not just call it a coffee maker - rather than detail the type, built in cupboard rather than closet.

If you are expecting Chinese guests, pay a local student or Chinese speaking local to translate your guide book and house rules into Mandarin.


Nope you didn’t, I was just joining in the convo.

I have a gas hob and electric oven and it is usually fine, but have just started hosting in my new place, so will let you know how it goes :blush:

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