Is there something you do really well, and you’d like to share it with your friends, family, or co-workers? Write a how-to article.
Did your mom stop by over the weekend and rave over those macaroon cookies you made just for her visit? Maybe you’d like to share the recipe with her by writing step-by-step directions.
Maybe you impressed your boss with how you do your job, and now the boss wants you to write instructions on performing a task.
Or, you may want to get creative and share what you know with the web. There are websites where you can publish your how-to articles and get a community of writers and editors to help improve your writing.
When you want to share your knowledge or train others to perform a task, learn how to write a how-to article.
What you’ll need to write a how-to article
What is a how-to? How-to articles are tutorials that lead readers through a task using a step-by-step approach.
The how-to article is one of the most straightforward writing formats to learn.
It contains the facts and only the facts. No filler, no fluff, and no extra stuff. And, it uses plain language to explain concepts and visualize steps in a process.
4 building blocks you'll need to write a how-to article
Write about what you know
Writing the how-to article is fun. Sharing your knowledge and making new discoveries is a rewarding experience. And, when you write about what you know, you’ll build your writing confidence and be on your way to becoming a competent how-to writer.
Test your project to get it right
Build your confidence as a how-to writer by re-creating your project several times before you sit down to write. You’ll learn something new each time you make a beauty elixir, use a smartphone app, start tomato seeds, decorate chocolate cupcakes, or refurbish a picture frame.
Each time you re-create your project, take lots of photographs. Think of your photos as your notepad, a place to store your writing ideas. You can also use those photos to add clarity to your how-to article.
TIP Pictures are only worth a thousand words if those pictures help the step-by-step instructions tell the story. Your photos should show readers exactly how to do a task and the result they should expect.
Organize your project into steps
The trick to the how-to article is to separate your project into a series of steps. Creating these steps is similar to developing an outline. Look for 6 to 8 items that need to be completed to perform the task. The pictures you took while you completed your project will give you some clues.
Your project may also give you clues to its natural step-by-step process. A project that I started years ago to grow a pencil tree from a broken branch lent itself to steps describing how to select, care for, prune, and make more of these bizarre-looking trees.
Revisions are your best friend
There’s always room for improvement in a how-to article. Here are a few tips that will help improve your writing:
- Ask friends to read your article and if they suggest a different approach that you didn’t think about, add it as a tip in the appropriate step.
- After you finish your how-to article, you may learn more about the subject. Share your newly found knowledge and update your how-to.
- While re-reading your article, you may think of a better way to explain a step.
- Never hesitate to make your work better.