How to Write a How to Guide

If you’ve ever wanted to write your own how to guide, TokenUser shares these excellent tips with the community. If you have any tips or top five lists that you’d like to share (perhaps using these very helpful guidelines), please send them my way!

Before writing a guide on how to do something, there are a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself: do you know the subject well enough to explain it in simple terms, and can you write a concise set of instructions based on that explanation?

If you are good to go on these questions, the best how to guides follow an age-old and simple principle: KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid, or (in this case) Keep It Stupidly Simple. This will enable someone to more easily follow your instructions. I’m hoping to help you write better how to guides with this guide of my own…

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9 thoughts on “How to Write a How to Guide”

  1. Very nice guide, it’ll help me write a how-to guide and I’ll certainly follow it.

    Thanks, you’ve followed your own guide very well ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. That’s a great article. It sounds like you’ve done this kind of stuff before.

    I’m a bit of an oddball myself. I’ve been doing computer-related tutorials for over 20 years, and have my own style.

    Fortunately, people like my tutorials, including some of the companies that made the software I talk about.

    When I write a tutorial, I actually perform every step as I write about it. And I illustrate every step of the way.

    It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.

  3. Nicely done. I’m a tech writer and former journalist, so I’m all about explaining things in the user’s language. A few thing I’ll recommend too:

    If you don’t know exactly how to do something, but still want to tell people how to do it, find a good expert to be the source of your instructions. Pick their brains, test, test, test along the way, and have someone else read and test your instructions before publishing.

    Well done!

  4. This is a well thought out guide even for people who think they might know how to write a tutorial. It’s good to brush up on this stuff, who knows, there may be a single point you may not be incorporating that could make your how-to guides be that much better. Well done.

  5. Thanks for the feedback. Part of my job is explaining technology (client server web based software) to business people (I am a sales engineer/architect). Most of the people in my company are tech folk, and despite “knowing their stuff” don’t communicate it very well. I am working through our ISO certification docs at the moment and making them clearer as well. Painful process ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. This is good advice. I have been wanting to write some UI how-to articles lately, but have not been that good at organizing my thoughts. Sometimes I get too complex. The KISS principle I learned in Graphic Design classes didn’t cross my mind as far as writing until I read this. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. heyy i’m a 13yr old thnx sooooo much for the guide now hopefully i should get a high mark when my exams come….:)

  8. Hi, i’ve got to write one for my english lang coursework and this has been very hepful, thanks!

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