Book A.

Book B.
7150 Requirements Guidance

Book C.

References, & Terms

(NASA Only)

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1. Requirements The Software User Manual shall contain: [SWE-115]

a.    Software summary, including:  application, inventory, environment, organization, overview of operation, contingencies, alternate states, and modes of operation,
       security, privacy, assistance, and problem reporting.
b.    Access to the software:  first-time user of the software, initiating a session, and stopping and suspending work.
c.    Processing reference guide:  capabilities, conventions, processing procedures, related processing, data back up, recovery from errors, malfunctions, emergencies,
       and messages.
d.    Assumptions, limitations, and safety-related items/concerns or constraints.
e.    Information that is unique or specific for each version of the software (e.g., new and modified features, new and modified interfaces).

1.1 Notes

NPR 7150.2, NASA Software Engineering Requirements, does not include any notes for this requirement.

1.2 Applicability Across Classes

Classes C-E safety critical are labeled with "SO."  This means that the requirement applies only for safety-critical portions of the software.

Class F and Class G are labeled with "X (not OTS)."  This means that this requirement does not apply to off-the-shelf software for these classes.





2. Rationale



3. Guidance


Software User Manuals are written with the user in mind.  Software User Manuals may be used as tutorials, introductions to the software, or just as reference guides. Regardless of how often the user will pick up the manual, it needs to be complete, accurate, and written with easy-to-find information that is concise, yet detailed enough to be clearly understood. Depending on the intended audience, it may also be helpful to organize the manual by tasks that the user is expected to perform using the software.


A complete user manual contains a summary of the software; instructions for starting and using that software; a processing reference guide; assumptions, limitations, and safety information; and any information unique to this version of the software.  Assistance for completing each of these elements of a Software User Manual is provided below.

Software summary

The software summary provides an overview of the software, including:


Access to the software

The software access portion of the user manual needs to be written for a first-time user of the software and provide instructions for:

  • Initiating a session – obtaining a password, changing a password, starting the software, logging in, and any other steps to begin using the software.
  • Stopping and suspending work – steps for saving work, logging off, shutting down, and any other steps for cleanly ending a session.
  • Equipment familiarization – powering on the system, expected initialization screens, and expected user  responses/actions, using the keyboard and pointing device, powering down the system.
  • Installation and setup – equipment setup; loading software; system initialization, including files, variables, and data; tailoring and reconfiguration; re-initialization.
  • Software access under abnormal conditions – determining if abnormal termination occurred; restarting after abnormal termination; recovery procedures, as applicable.
  • Security and privacy for storing and marking reports generated by the system.

Processing reference guide

The processing reference guide needs to provide the following reference information:


  • Purpose of menus, functions, transactions, processes.
  • Step-by-step procedures.
  • User inputs.
  • User commands, including data entry, save, print, update, and delete; and operation cancellation, interruption, and restart.
  • Expected results.
  • Images of menus, icons, forms, diagnostic messages, as applicable, with explanations.
  • Software navigation.
  • Help or information for accessing on-line help.
  • If appropriate, a tutorial.


Assumptions, limitations, and safety-related items/concerns or constraints

This portion of the Software User Manual describes any operating assumptions, limitations, constraints, or safety-related concerns not described elsewhere in the manual.  Providing this information allows the user to understand the bounds of the software and its operation, including limitations and safety-related concerns that can be affected by user input and actions.

Information that is unique or specific for each version of the software

Each version of software is unique in some way, e.g., new and modified features and/or new and modified interfaces. It is important for the author to include in the Software User Manual descriptions of the items that make a particular version of software unique from previous versions, if there are previous versions of the software.

Additional content

Additional content to consider for inclusion in the Software User Manual includes:

  • Identifying information for the software, such as software name, system name, identification number, version number, release number, release date, issuing organization.
  • High-level description of input and output.


  1. Hardware.
  2. Data definitions, i.e., data groupings and names.
  3. Peripheral space considerations — data storage and printout.
  4. Memory considerations — program storage, array storage, and data set buffers.
  5. Timing considerations.
    1. Central Processing Unit time in terms of samples and cycles processed.
    2. Input/output time in terms of data sets used and type of processing.
    3. Wall-clock time in terms of samples and cycles processed.



Consult Center Process Asset Libraries (PALs) for Center-specific guidance and resources, such as templates, related to software user manuals and their contents.

Additional guidance related to Software User Manuals may be found in the following related requirement in this Handbook:




Deliver Software Products


4. Small Projects

No additional guidance is available for small projects. The community of practice is encouraged to submit guidance candidates for this paragraph.



5. Resources




6. Lessons Learned

No Lessons Learned have currently been identified for this requirement.