Product instructions that don’t, er, quite work

Writing instructions isn’t as easy as some people think – I’ll be going into that seriously in one of my upcoming eGuides on HowToWriteBetter.net. In the meantime here are some examples of what happens when they go wrong. Some of them may be made up for fun, but I have actually seen, with my own eyes, more than one of them out there in real life…

On a blanket from Taiwan – NOT TO BE USED AS PROTECTION FROM A TORNADO.

On a helmet mounted mirror used by US cyclists – REMEMBER, OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE ACTUALLY BEHIND YOU.

On a Taiwanese shampoo – USE REPEATEDLY FOR SEVERE DAMAGE.

On the bottle-top of a (UK) flavoured milk drink – AFTER OPENING, KEEP UPRIGHT.

On a New Zealand insect spray – THIS PRODUCT NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.

In a US guide to setting up a new computer – TO AVOID CONDENSATION FORMING, ALLOW THE BOXES TO WARM UP TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE OPENING. (Sensible, but the instruction was INSIDE the box.)

On a Japanese product used to relieve painful haemorrhoids – LIE DOWN ON BED AND INSERT POSCOOL SLOWLY UP TO THE PROJECTED PORTION LIKE A SWORD-GUARD INTO ANAL DUCT.  WHILE INSERTING POSCOOL FOR APPROXIMATELY 5 MINUTES, KEEP QUIET.

In some countries, on the bottom of Coke bottles – OPEN OTHER END.

On a packet of Sunmaid raisins – WHY NOT TRY TOSSING OVER YOUR FAVOURITE BREAKFAST CEREAL?

On a Sears hairdryer – DO NOT USE WHILE SLEEPING.

On a bag of Fritos – YOU COULD BE A WINNER! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. DETAILS INSIDE. (The shoplifter special!)

On a bar of Dial soap – DIRECTIONS – USE LIKE REGULAR SOAP.

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of the box) – DO NOT TURN UPSIDE DOWN.

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding – PRODUCT WILL BE HOT AFTER HEATING.

On a Korean kitchen knife – WARNING KEEP OUT OF CHILDREN.

On a string of Chinese-made Christmas lights – FOR INDOOR OR OUTDOOR USE ONLY.

On a Japanese food processor – NOT TO BE USED FOR THE OTHER USE.

On Sainsbury’s peanuts – WARNING – CONTAINS NUTS.

On an American Airlines packet of nuts – INSTRUCTIONS – OPEN PACK, EAT NUTS.

On a Swedish chainsaw – DO NOT ATTEMPT TO STOP CHAIN WITH YOUR HANDS OR GENITALS.

On a child’s Superman costume – WEARING OF THIS GARMENT DOES NOT ENABLE YOU TO FLY.

And while we’re on the subject of the dangers of DIY copywriting…

On the trucks of a plumbing company – DON’T SLEEP WITH A DRIP. PHONE US.

In the front yard of a funeral home – DRIVE CAREFULLY. WE CAN WAIT.

A Pizza shop slogan in the USA – BUY OUR PIZZA. WE KNEAD THE DOUGH.

Sign on the door of a gynecologist’s consulting room – DR JONES, AT YOUR CERVIX

At a military hospital-door to endoscopy unit – TO EXPEDITE YOUR VISIT, PLEASE BACK IN

On a plumber’s pick-up truck – WE REPAIR WHAT YOUR HUSBAND FIXED

Door of a plastic surgeon’s consulting room – LET US HELP PICK YOUR NOSE

Sign in a chiropodist’s consulting room – TIME WOUNDS ALL HEELS

Outside a QuickFit exhaust shop – NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY. WE HEAR YOU COMING

In a restaurant window – DON’T STAND THERE AND BE HUNGRY. COME IN AND GET FED UP

………next time, why not check your DIY ad copy with a professional editor???

How to make sure all your writing does  work…:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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