How to write a How to article
details are the key
Instructions must be clear
As a construction business owner for over 16 years, I search the Internet now more than ever for application techniques or tips on how to accomplish a task. When you are in this business, new products and ways of doing things change rapidly. With that being said; there are lots of poor writings and there a some very good ones. If you want to write a "How To" article, and be good at it, please follow these guide lines.
What ever your subject is be very knowledgeable on the subject or an expert in the field, first off. You may fool a couple of people, but the facts will catch up with you over time. When you begin your article, please include a few fact about your background and expertise. This will comfort the reader that you truly do have the ability to instruct them.
DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS. I can't emphasize this enough. People are filled with questions when they start a new project. Things that may seem like common sense to you, will be a question from someone. Before you start your article, out line on a sheet of paper every thing you do when you preform this project yourself. Don't let the minor things you do get over looked. Everything from, how to prep for the project, until the time you test and clean up. People get frustrated and will not read anymore articles from you, if minor details are left out, and they have seek answers some where else.
Pictures and more pictures. As the saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words", well in the "How to" article business it's probably worth at least that many. Pictures with captions, often can be more important than simple instructions. Showing where a bolt may go, or where to place a clamp will be a lot more instructive in a photo, than writing a paragraph explaining it. It may not be necessary to show every little step, but the more details are involved, the more important that they become.
As with anything, you can never be perfect all the time. But, if you take your time, make your notes and really pay attention to details, you can write a good How To article.
The next time you are assembling something, take notes. Did the person writing this manual leave out something? Can you improve the installation method. Faster? Easier? These are the type of articles people look for. If writing to be published, these notes will do you well. A lot of How To articles do exactly that, they show new techniques, new methods for existing products and applications.
Also, once you have put your notes together, follow them yourself at least once. See if there is anything that you left out. Revise it accordingly.
I wrote this article after seeking an explanation on a project that I was in the middle of and the explanation was lacking in clarity. This left me frustrated and thought this has to happen to more people than just myself. Hopefully, if some writers read this it will help somewhere down the road.
Good luck to you in your "How To" endeavors, I wish you success.