Define: Instructional Text

Instructional Text
Instructional Text
Quick Summary of Instructional Text

Instructional text is a form of material designed to assist individuals in learning. It can take the form of a book, a video, or even a set of instructions that accompany a product. The main objective of the instructional text is to provide clear and concise information that is easily comprehensible and can be followed. For instance, a cookbook is a type of instructional text that offers step-by-step guidance on preparing various dishes. Similarly, a user manual that accompanies a new electronic device provides instructions on how to set it up and operate it. Instructional text is commonly used in educational environments like classrooms or training programs. It is also applicable in everyday situations, such as assembling furniture or following a recipe. In summary, instructional text is a valuable tool for learning and can be found in diverse forms and contexts.

What is the dictionary definition of Instructional Text?
Dictionary Definition of Instructional Text

Instructional text refers to books or materials designed to assist individuals in learning. These can take the form of storybooks, picture books, or textbooks. The primary objective of the instructional text is to impart new knowledge or enhance understanding. It is commonly used in educational settings or for self-improvement purposes.

Full Definition Of Instructional Text

Instructional texts are ubiquitous in modern society, guiding us through the use of products, the implementation of procedures, and the learning of new skills. These texts can take various forms, including user manuals, educational materials, training guides, and procedural handbooks. As with any form of communication, instructional texts are subject to legal considerations. This legal overview will explore the various legal aspects of instructional texts in the context of British law, including intellectual property rights, liability issues, regulatory compliance, and consumer protection.

Intellectual Property Rights


Copyright law protects the original expression of ideas, including instructional texts. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA), the author of an instructional text holds the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and adapt their work. This protection is automatic upon creation and lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years after their death.

To ensure copyright protection, the text must be original and fixed in a tangible form. While facts, ideas, and procedures themselves are not copyrightable, the specific expression of these elements within an instructional text is protected. For example, the unique wording, structure, and presentation of a user manual are subject to copyright.

Infringement occurs when a third party uses the copyrighted material without permission. Remedies for infringement include injunctions, damages, and, in some cases, criminal penalties. Authors can also register their works with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to facilitate enforcement, although this is not a requirement for protection.


Trademarks may also be relevant to instructional texts, particularly when they are associated with branded products or services. A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of others. It can include words, logos, and slogans. Registering a trademark with the IPO provides legal protection against unauthorised use.

In instructional texts, trademarks often appear in the context of brand names, logos, and product identifiers. Ensuring that these elements are correctly used and protected can prevent consumer confusion and safeguard the brand’s reputation. Misuse or unauthorised use of trademarks can lead to legal action for trademark infringement or passing off.


While patents protect inventions, they can also impact instructional texts when these texts describe patented processes or products. A patent grants the holder exclusive rights to an invention for up to 20 years, provided it is new, involves an inventive step, and is capable of industrial application.

Instructional texts that detail how to use or implement a patented invention must be careful not to infringe on these rights. Proper licensing agreements and permissions are necessary when referencing patented technologies or methodologies within instructional materials.

Liability Issues

Product Liability

Manufacturers and distributors of products have a legal duty to ensure that their products are safe for use. This duty extends to the accuracy and completeness of instructional texts that accompany the products. Under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, producers can be held liable for damage caused by defective products, which includes defective instructions.

Instructional texts must provide clear, accurate, and comprehensive guidance to prevent misuse that could lead to injury or damage. This includes warning labels, safety instructions, and detailed operational guidance. Failure to provide adequate instructions can result in product liability claims, where claimants must prove that the defect (including inadequate instructions) caused their harm.

Professional Liability

Professionals who create instructional texts, such as technical writers or educators, may also face liability for errors or omissions. In cases where inaccurate or misleading instructions cause harm, the author could be held liable for negligence. Professionals must exercise due diligence to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information they provide.

Professional liability insurance can mitigate the risks associated with creating instructional texts. This insurance covers claims of negligence, errors, or omissions in professional services, including the creation of instructional materials.

Regulatory Compliance

Instructional texts must comply with various regulatory requirements, depending on the industry and the nature of the instructions. Several key regulatory areas include:

Health and Safety

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 imposes a duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities. Instructional texts related to workplace procedures, equipment use, or safety protocols must comply with this legislation.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) requires employers to provide information and training on the safe use of hazardous substances. Instructional texts must include comprehensive safety instructions and hazard information to comply with these regulations.

Consumer Protection

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 ensures that products sold to consumers are of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. Instructional texts must accurately reflect the product’s capabilities and use. Misleading or incorrect instructions can lead to breaches of consumer protection laws, resulting in legal action and reputational damage.


The Equality Act 2010 requires that instructional texts be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes providing alternative formats such as braille, large print, or audio versions. Ensuring accessibility not only complies with legal requirements but also enhances inclusivity and usability for all users.

Consumer Protection

Consumer protection laws play a crucial role in ensuring that instructional texts provide accurate and reliable information. The key legislation includes:

Misleading and Comparative Advertising

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) prohibit misleading actions and omissions that could deceive consumers. Instructional texts must not contain false information or omit essential details that could mislead consumers about the product’s use or capabilities.

Comparative advertising, where an instructional text references competitors’ products, must be accurate and not mislead consumers. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) enforces these standards and can take action against non-compliant advertisements, including instructional texts.

Sales of Goods

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015 require that goods sold to consumers meet certain standards, including being of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. Instructional texts must accurately describe the product and its use to ensure compliance with these laws. If a product fails to meet these standards due to inadequate instructions, consumers may be entitled to a refund, repair, or replacement.

E-commerce and Distance Selling

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 impose specific requirements on businesses selling goods or services online or via distance selling methods. Instructional texts provided in these contexts must include clear and comprehensive information about the product, its use, and the consumer’s rights.

Best Practices for Creating Instructional Texts

To minimise legal risks and ensure compliance with relevant laws, creators of instructional texts should adhere to best practices:

Accuracy and Clarity

Ensure that all information is accurate, clear, and easy to understand. Avoid technical jargon that could confuse users, and provide step-by-step instructions where applicable.

Comprehensive Coverage

Include all necessary information for safe and effective use, including safety warnings, troubleshooting tips, and maintenance instructions. Anticipate potential questions or issues users might have and address them proactively.

Regular Updates

Regularly review and update instructional texts to reflect any changes in product design, regulatory requirements, or industry standards. Outdated information can lead to misuse and potential liability.

Testing and Validation

Test instructional texts with actual users to identify any ambiguities or potential issues. Validation ensures that the instructions are practical and effective in real-world scenarios.


Ensure that instructional texts are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Provide alternative formats and consider the needs of all potential users during the design and creation process.

Legal Review

Consult with legal professionals to review instructional texts for compliance with relevant laws and regulations. This review can identify potential legal issues and provide recommendations for mitigation.


Instructional texts play a vital role in guiding users through the use of products, procedures, and skills. However, their creation and distribution are subject to various legal considerations. Ensuring compliance with intellectual property laws, liability principles, regulatory requirements, and consumer protection standards is essential to mitigate legal risks and enhance the effectiveness of instructional texts.

By adhering to best practices and seeking legal guidance, creators of instructional texts can produce materials that are not only legally sound but also clear, accurate, and user-friendly. In a world where clear communication is paramount, the legal landscape of instructional texts underscores the importance of precision, compliance, and accessibility in all instructional materials.

Instructional Text FAQ'S

Instructional text is a type of written material that provides guidance or direction on how to perform a task or complete a process.

Examples of instructional text include user manuals, how-to guides, recipes, assembly instructions, and safety procedures.

Instructional text can be legally binding if it is part of a contract or agreement. However, it is important to consult with a lawyer to ensure that the language used is clear and enforceable.

Yes, instructional text can be copyrighted if it meets the requirements for originality and creativity. However, copyright protection does not extend to the underlying ideas or concepts.

The purpose of instructional text is to provide clear and concise guidance on how to perform a task or complete a process. It is intended to be informative and helpful to the reader.

Best practices for writing instructional text include using clear and concise language, breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps, using visual aids to enhance understanding, and testing the instructions to ensure they are accurate and effective.

Yes, instructional text can be used as evidence in a legal case if it is relevant to the issue at hand. However, it is important to ensure that the text is authentic and has not been altered or tampered with.

Common mistakes to avoid when writing instructional text include using technical jargon or acronyms that may be unfamiliar to the reader, assuming prior knowledge or experience, and failing to provide clear and concise instructions.

The author or publisher of instructional text is responsible for ensuring its accuracy. However, it is also important for the reader to carefully follow the instructions and seek clarification if necessary.

Yes, instructional text can be translated into other languages to reach a wider audience. However, it is important to ensure that the translation is accurate and culturally appropriate.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 8th June 2024.

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