Wondering how to create the next big how-to guide on the topic of your most knowledgeable passions? Welcome to the how-to How-To, where one can follow along to the very simple yet comprehensive steps on achieving a great how-to manual. Let this guide help you help others!
Step 1: Address the ‘Why?’
Any literary piece must have a reason for being written. Why do you feel the need to write your how-to guide? The production of a how-to guide is a lot like an entrepreneurial endeavor, in that it needs a little bit of market research beforehand. Does there already exist a how-to guide on the topic you’re interested in writing about? If so, what would make your how-to different?
Consider the example of how GoodYear wrote their guide on changing a tire. Before launching into the steps necessary, the article takes a moment to address the importance of knowing how to change a tire, setting themselves apart from other bland tire-fixing guides.
Step 2: Identify the Issue
The purpose of a how-to guide is to adequately respond to a specific problem. Without knowing the exact root cause of an issue, a how-to guide cannot be specific, rendering it virtually useless in doing anything other than covering a broad range. Wikihow, in their article on “How to Break Up With a Friend” splits up the guide into three separate parts. The first part is all about the ‘before’ — what led up to the issue, and is the issue really a deep seated dilemma that requires more than an honest conversation? A how-to guide may not even be necessary, depending on the issue at hand. Know your enemies before you attack them.
Step 3: Accumulate the Tools
If I may reference GoodYear again, and every single cooking recipe on the internet, knowing what tools should be used throughout the how-to guide will be necessary. List the tools clearly, and if possible, where one may attain them.
Step 4: The Actual How-to Part
Now is what a reader is usually waiting for! Launch into those steps. Clearly label them and add substeps if appropriate to each step. This is not the area to be decorative — trim down the steps and their descriptions so that although they are effective and thorough, they aren’t excessive. A reader wants to get through a how-to guide generally as fast as possible, and they shouldn’t be distracted from the task at hand.
Take a note from Wikihow and add pictures on occasion — visual cues can help in explaining, sometimes more than sole text can.
Ensure that the steps cover the post-process as well. In cases such as a friend breakup, steps can be taken to officially break up, but one of the trickiest parts is maintaining distance from the ex-friend after the breakup. Just as NBC’s Better mentions, a breakup isn’t the end of the relationship, oftentimes. The other person, or even the breaker-upper may be upset enough to try to revive the friendship, which doesn’t usually go well.
Hopefully this how-to guide helps! Happy how-to-ing!