Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Write How-to Articles (Part 4 of 5)

Here's more on how to write how-to articles and books.

1. Keep the language simple. That's true with any kind of writing, but it's especially true when we try to explain the way to do something.

2. Close to that is making the instructions easy to follow. You want to keep readers moving, not make them stammer or ask, "What do you mean?" Make each point and move on. How-to pieces aren't to impress readers with your knowledge of Sanskrit or your advanced education. Use bullets and lists if they make the material more quickly absorbed.

3. Write in an informal, friendly style. Don't be afraid to address readers as you (as I do in this blog). In most writing, the I-we approach works better because it implies, "I'm like you." But when you give instructions, you become the expert and this is how you teach.

4. Keep the word practical at the center of your writing. Think of this as explaining something to a neighbor who asks, "How do you. . . ?" Illustrate or clarify points by giving examples, as I do in most of my blogs.

If you write how-to articles,
clearly show readers how to do it.


  1. Great tips, Cec! The one about explaining something to a neighbor really targeted how to approach article writing!

    I have a neighbor who is precious. She phones me and asks, "What's the wannabe birch tree?" or "What's the name of the gloppy bird that is tall?" When the phone rings I steel myself for some good thinking.

    Happy Autumn, Nancy

  2. Cec, this is very helpful, as are all of your posts. I love getting them.


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