How to Write Effective How-to Articles

Whether you’re writing for your blog or a content site, you’ll want to write the best possible articles. Use the tips here to make your articles useful and easy to follow.

It’s best to write about things you have personally done. If you’re trying to write instructions for something you have no experience with, you may find it very difficult. Having done something yourself, especially if you’ve done it more than once, gives you the added benefit of possibly knowing an easier way than most people are used to. It’s also a good idea to begin with whatever subject(s) you know the most about. For instance, I know a lot of “green” tricks and a lot about herbs, so those were the first things I wrote about.

Try to use as few steps as possible. You want to have enough steps to fully convey the instructions, but having too many can be overwhelming to the reader.

Keep your steps simple. Don’t leave out important information, but don’t be too verbose. Give the reader exactly the information they need, and nothing more. If you want to give information that’s not crucial to the task itself, you can always add tips and tidbits after the main article.

Remember the first-timers. People frequently use how-to articles to learn how to do something for the first time. Keep that in mind when you’re writing. You may even want to write more than one version of your article; one for beginners, and one for people with experience on the topic.

Find your personal writing style. Maybe you’re great at relaying technical detail, or maybe you’re really good at making things sound simple and unintimidating. Whatever skill you have, put it to use in your writing. Your style may just keep people coming back to use your tutorials. And don’t be afraid to make your articles fun. Telling someone how to turn something monotonous into something enjoyable might be just what a reader is looking for.

Use photos and diagrams where appropriate. You may be able to write a how-to in nothing but text, and have it be very useful. However, some things really need photos or diagrams to make any sense. Be sure you use images whenever they’d be helpful, but don’t clutter the article if it isn’t necessary.

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2 thoughts on “How to Write Effective How-to Articles

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  1. Great point about limiting so many steps should be in a how-to article. what I’ve noticed is that sometimes people get so obsessed with the idea of a number to lead off their article that they open up with something like sixty four steps to X or 45 ways to x. That’s ridiculous.

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    1. I like to keep it simple. Honestly, when I write a how-to I try to do it in as few steps as possible, because that’s how I am in real life. I’ll make something one step if I can figure out how. It may not make for a great article on its own, but I can always fill it out with talk about how easy it can be.

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