Since IKEA has locations all over the planet, the end users of the products speak a myriad of languages. Many companies would print their furniture assembly instructions in all of those languages, thus creating a thick workbook that flustered citizens would have to search through in order to find a language that they understood. Those companies would also have to hire translators, which is expensive.
IKEA has conquered this issue by using ambiguous pictures to show people how to put their furniture together. My husband and I bought some of IKEA's popular BILLY bookcases last March, and I was highly amused at the way the instructions were portrayed. I photographed two pages out of the instruction manual--the do's and don'ts of putting your bookshelf together--and added my own commentary on what the drawings might have meant.
1. "Flathead Phillips Pencil Hammer!" is a customary greeting among strangely-shaped, androgynous humanoids.
2. Are you dismayed by a jumbled pile of boards lying at your feet? Find a funny man with a pencil in his ear; he might help you!
3. Did you manage to break your bookshelf before it was even set up all the way? IKEA understands. All you have to do is call their customer service hotline, and they will instantly ship you a replacement shelf via magic carpet.
4. Are you perplexed by a giant question mark hovering in a bubble in front of your face? Does it refuse to go away despite your pleas? You should call the nearest floating IKEA for immediate assistance. They'll know what to do.