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Monday, July 11, 2011

The HOW-TO Template

How-to articles are in great demand. There is even a whole website devoted just to how-to articles: eHow.com.

In today’s quick and easy availability to information and the DIY craze, people look online for directions to do literally – everything! I write for eHow.com and struggled at first to describe what seemed like really simple steps. With time and practice however, it has become much easier to envision the whole picture - from beginning to completion - of any number of tasks. I follow a simple template and you can, too.

Before I give you the template, however, let me give you a few tips:
  1. Break the procedure into sections if there are more than 10 or so steps involved. For example, for most of the sewing articles I write, I present it in 2 parts: 1) preparation; and 2) assembly.
  2.  Begin each step with a verb.
  3.  Read your completed article out loud before you submit it so you can visualize the procedure based on the words; if the description doesn’t give you the picture, then it isn’t clear enough.
  4. Even if you are an expert, include references and/or resources at the end of your article.


OK. Here’s the template:

Introduction
Tell the reader what the activity is and anything unusual or unique about your particular way of doing it. Include anything specific that you wouldn’t include in the steps.

Level of Difficulty
Is it so easy that anyone can do it? (EASY)
Is it fairly easy, but still requires some concentration and skill? (MODERATE)
Is it something that requires prior knowledge and skill? (DIFFICULT)


Things You Need
List the things needed to accomplish this task. Make your list of supplies clear and simple like a list of ingredients for a recipe. Do not describe the things needed in full sentences or with long descriptions.

Steps
Number your steps and write them in simple command form.

References / Resources
List your references and resources at the end of the article.

Examples of River's eHow articles:

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