Owner’s manuals tend to be lengthier and contain more detailed sections related to safety precautions and regulatory compliance, as well as product setup and installation, than operator manuals. There are other differences between the two, despite a tendency to use them interchangeably.
Owner’s manuals often emphasize safety and regulatory compliance information to protect the manufacturer from liability claims. In addition to detailed operating instructions for various functions or components, they usually feature sections devoted to technical specifications, product care and maintenance, obtaining service and replacement parts, warranty information and troubleshooting guides. Owner’s manuals tend to accompany products that do not require much instruction to operate, such as reclining chairs and bathroom fixtures, as well as more mechanically complex products, such as automobiles, and major appliances, such as refrigerators and dishwashers.
Operator’s manuals tend to be shorter in length, include less product setup and installation information and focus more on actual instructions for using the products. These manuals may accompany computer printers or small appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, portable space heaters, power tools and electric blenders, that are essentially ready to use right out of the box with little preparation.