Introduction to the How-To Article

Today, I’m going to describe how to… write a how to article. I know, it’s ironic, but bear with me. How to write the how to might be helpful for all of us to see the origin of the content when we google “how to cook an over easy egg perfectly” (thanks Alton Brown!) or “how to fix the thing that is broken.” I love how-to articles, because it’s like calling my mom but in detailed, written form!

 

Thanks Alton Brown for your step by step guide that helped teenage Mary Jo perfect making an over easy egg! (My mom makes perfect over easy eggs and tried to teach me, but somehow this article stuck more.)

After talking with Julie, I realized that I needed to narrow my focus for this experiment. In Experiments 1 and 2, I focused on overarching ways activist work could be done and how it could help. We realized that I needed to focus on my own personal experiences to make Experiment 3 something that had meaning to me and could develop into a final project.

I am a facilitator for Feminist Forum, a one-credit course in the RC that is very activist based with the topics we discuss. I was very much thrown into being a facilitator of Feminist Forum, with a short online course my only training. This led to some confusion and growing pains among me and my co-facilitators in the beginning. Now, having a year under my belt as a facilitator, I want to write a how-to article to help future facilitators of Feminist Forum (and other forums) be the best they can be. This can include simple aspects like leading a discussion, and more complex ones like dealing with students who dominate the discussion.

According to Writer’s Digest, a how-to article requires 6 steps:

  1. Select Your Topic – Pick a topic that interests you and write a rough draft!
  2. Address Your Audience’s Needs – Decide who your article is intended for – is your rough draft appropriate for this audience?
  3. Research – Look for facts, statistics, definitions, and quotes that can make your article more authoritative
  4. Tighten Your Draft – Write another draft with the information you’ve found in steps 2 and 3
  5. Make It Specific – Make sure your article stays to the point and includes thorough information
  6. Read, Revise, Repeat – Keep revising, get advice from other people, and try to make your article the best it can be!

WikiHow is a website that has an array of different how-to articles on what seems to be every subject imaginable. The front page of WikiHow gives a multitude of examples of how-to articles, with everything from How to Boil Carrots, to How to Create an iOS Developer Account, to the Halloween-themed How to Hide Candy in Your Room. This shows the breadth of the topics how-to articles can cover. How-to articles also have room for fun and creativity! Related to my topic, NBC had an article titled How to be an Activist for Causes You Believe In. My how-to article will probably be more nuanced than these examples, but these provide a good starting point for me to see the basics of how-to articles. I’m excited to write this!

3 thoughts to “Introduction to the How-To Article”

  1. I love this idea so much! I don’t know exactly what you cover in your forum, but I think making a comprehensive guide will definitely be useful in the future. Will you be speaking from your specific experiences, or gaining knowledge from your fellow/past facilitators to help aid the piece?

  2. I’m not super familiar with your origin project, but a how-to article seems like a great idea for this experiment! It sounds like this genre would allow you to reflect on your own experiences as a forum facilitator and fill an information gap that currently exists for the next facilitators. I am curious about this Feminist Forum course! I have never heard of it and would love to be able to learn more through your experiment. How are you thinking of writing this how-to? Do you want it to read like a set of directions, or do you want it to be more personal, or somewhere in between?

  3. Hey Mary Jo,
    I love this idea! I think it’s so cool that your project could develop into something with real-life applications, and that you may be able to see the benefits of your project directly. I was wondering if you’d given any thought to multimedia or pictures that you could include? For example, I think it would be cool if you included pictures from your forums! I’m looking forward to seeing how everything turns out!

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