Ultimate Tutorial: 11 Essential Tips to Writing It
Nothing beats a great tutorial for sharable, bookmarkable content. There’s a difference between just providing information and teaching someone how to put that information to use. Do one and you’re just an ordinary blogger. Do the other an you’re a superstar.
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Here are 11 tips for writing the ultimate tutorial.
- Clearly state what you plan to teach: Make it clear in your opening paragraph exactly what you’re going to cover in your tutorial. This is a good practice for any article but particularly important in tutorials so readers know what to expect and can decide if they want to continue reading.
- Make sure you know what you’re talking about: When you’re teaching someone how to do something there’s no room for words like “about” or “approximately,” you need to know the specifics because your readers are going to ask.
- Break it down into clear, concise steps: Even if the next step is as simple as “Turn the page” or “Click on the link” make it a separate, clear step. Even with tutorials your readers are going to scan the page instead of reading every single word and you don’t want them to miss even the tiniest step.
- Use images wherever necessary: There are some cases where words just aren’t enough. Use screen shots or pictures to better illustrate your instructions.
- Use both good and bad examples: Tell your readers what each step should look like if they do it right and it’s also a good idea to tell them what it looks like if they do it wrong – and then show them how to fix it. This lets your readers know that even if they do make a mistake, they’re not the only one, and it’s not the end of the world.
- Be coherent: Make sure your steps are in order and coherent. In other words, don’t wait until step five to tell the reader he should have used the glue gun back in step 3.
- Assume your reader knows absolutely nothing: Start your tutorial at the very beginning. If special materials or equipment is required make sure you tell your readers what you’re using, where they can get it, and if there are acceptable substitutes.
- Include frequently asked questions: Throughout your tutorial try to answer questions you know readers will be asking and when you’re done, include a list of frequently asked questions at the end. Your goal is to make sure the reader has every possible question answered before he leaves your page.
- Update often: In the case of a technology or gadget tutorial your instructions can change quickly, each time there’s a new upgrade. Be sure to update your tutorial accordingly.
- Provide your email address for support: No matter how hard you try to anticipate questions, someone is going to come up with something you didn’t cover. Make sure you provide an easy way for people to contact you.
- Follow your own directions: And finally, before publishing, proofread your tutorial and follow your own directions. Did you leave out any steps? Do you need to be a little clearer about something? Remember, you’re going to look like a superstar if people can follow your tutorial. But you’re going to look like a real loser if they can’t.
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