Humor can be an effective way to make the messages in your instructional books memorable, particularly when paired with charming illustrations. Below is an example from a popular etiquette guide geared toward one of the toughest audiences out there—teenagers.
For my sixteenth birthday, my parents gave me a red Fender Stratocaster guitar and a hardback copy of Tiffany’s Table Managers for Teenagers (Random House, 1989).
The book in all its turquoise splendor.
Apparently I’d been making a beast of myself at the dinner table, and the time to shape up was nigh. But with my new guitar sparkling in its case, learning the difference between a salad fork and a lobster fork was not a priority—a fork was simply a vehicle for delivering food from my plate to my mouth.
Still, I humored them and opened the book. First, I flipped to a page providing instructions on how to eat asparagus without imitating a trained seal.
What if I enjoy imitating trained seals?
Next, I flipped to a page where I discovered (much to my surprise) that it isn’t necessary to wait for the hostess to take her first bite. But be forewarned: you mustn’t leap at your food like an Irish wolfhound.
No wolfhounds, got it.
Curiously, the introduction to the Salad Course featured an aproned lady dressing a bowl of salad with a gigantic jug of what I surmised to be creamy Ranch, while standing on a chair.
No one’s perfect.
As this etiquette guide has proved, humor can be an effective technique for making the messages in your instructional book memorable.