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How to Write a Tutorial

The internet is a great way to learn how to do things. Because there is such a large audience of people interested in learning from the internet, writing tutorials can be a great way to get hits and be seen by people around the world. Keep your tutorials specific, concrete, and clear. If you do that, you could become an internet celebrity.

• Pick a Topic to Write About

Find a problem to fix. If there is something that you are interested in or that you want to know how to do, it is likely that it is on someone elses mind too. Brainstorm some interesting topics to write about.

Narrow your topic. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to cover everything important. Many people will lose interest because they need to wade through material that isn't relevant to what they are interested in. If you have a broad topic, try to think about a way to define it more narrowly.

For example, instead of writing a tutorial on how to use Microsoft Word, write a tutorial on how to insert chapter breaks in a Word document.

Explain why the subject matters. People are more likely to read your tutorial if they know what it can do for them. In the introduction, explain the benefits of learning the skill. If, for example, you are explaining a photo processing program, tell the reader some of the fun things it can do with pictures.

Research existing tutorials. If you really want your tutorial to be read, it is best to pick a topic that hasn't been written about too often. Look online for existing tutorials and see what you will be competing with.

Think about your audience. Who is your audience? Is the tutorial meant for beginners or for advanced users? Consider what additional information your audience might need to understand your tutorial.

Write a title. The title should clearly describe what the tutorial is about. It should be brief and precise.

Consider the title "How to insert page numbers in Microsoft Word." If you left out "Microsoft Word," the title would not be precise enough and the reader wouldn't know which program you were working with.

Consider the title "How to insert footnotes, endnote, references, and citations in Microsoft Word." Footnotes and endnotes are all types of references and simply be labeled references. So, for a brief title, you would write "How to insert references in Microsoft Word."

Write an introduction. Write a quick paragraph in which you clearly tell the reader what you are writing about. Explain to them why this subject will be useful. Try to get them excited.

It can help to include a picture of the finished product at the end of the introduction. If you give the reader some idea of what they're working toward, you're more likely to get them excited about the tutorial.

• Writing Your Tutorial

Write out steps. Each step should be clear and brief. Try to include a picture that illustrates each step. Do not leave anything to the imagination.

Split up complicated steps. If you find that the step is getting overly long or complicated, ask whether it would be better to split up into two separate steps. You should be able to summarize the gist of each step in a sentence. It is better to have multiple short steps than one long one.

Practice what you preach. After you finish, try following your own tutorial. Perform each step. Ask yourself if there was anything you needed to do to finish the project that wasn't included in the step. If so, add that step to your tutorial.

Describe each step thoroughly. Don't skimp on the details. Describe each step as clearly and precisely as possible. Don't leave anything to the imagination.

Keep it short and simple. Don't use big words or go off on irrelevant questions. Be sure that the reader can quickly skim the article and get the point.

For example, if you are writing a tutorial on how to clean up a stain simply say “apply dishwashing soap to rag.” Do not give the chemical name for the type of soap and go through a list of alternative soaps and why they don't work as well.

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