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How to Write a Tutorial

Tutorials can be a very effective way of teaching people something. You can write tutorials on anything from gardening, music production and fashion design to pottery, swimming and dancing. Here are some guidelines for writing a great tutorial.

1. Select a great topic

Begin with topics in which you have significant expertise or substantial knowledge. However, search the internet first to find out what other people have written on the same topics. If there are already numerous tutorials on the same subjects, it would be advisable to look for other less explored topics.  

2. Mention your tutorial’s objective

You need to mention your objective at the beginning of the tutorial. This explains to your readers what they can expect to learn from the tutorial. Setting expectations clear from the onset will give them a reason to keep reading.

3. Keep it short and simple

Your tutorial should be written in a way that even a total novice can grasp. Since your aim is to teach something, make sure your writing style is user-friendly. All the industry-specific terms used in the tutorial should be explained for the sake of the beginners. To encourage people to read through, make sure your tutorial is as short as possible.

4. Add images

Tutorials usually work best when images are used along with the text content. Pictures help your readers to better understand what you are teaching them to do. For instance, if your tutorial is about web design, you can use screen shots to emphasize each step. This will make it easier for readers to follow along and apply the lessons.

5. Use video

Recorded tutorials in form of video are a very effective way of teaching. You can simply record yourself giving a demonstration or presenting information on a specific subject area. These videos can then be posted online or distributed in form of DVDs. You can create video tutorials using tools such as CamStudio, JingProject, Wink, Adobe Captivate, AllCapture and ScreenRecord. Videos tutorials can include written and interactive elements. The written elements are often notes or further information not covered in the video.

6. Make it interactive

Interactive tutorials consist of a combination of text, video, audio and images. Unlike video tutorials, interactive tutorials require the viewers to carry out some exercises after watching the demonstration or presentation. Afterwards, you will then need to give some feedback on their actions.

7. Highlight examples

Look for several real life examples which will help drive your point home. For instance, if you are writing a cooking tutorial, you could mention a few celebrities that use similar recipes. This will cause your readers to take you more seriously.

8. Use a proper structure

You need to ensure that your tutorial is written in a way that makes it reader friendly. If your tutorial is short, you could write it in a list format. However, if it is significantly long, make sure it is structured in a way that allows readers to access the different sections. If the tutorial runs into several pages, be sure to provide links which will enable users to navigate easily.

9. Proofread your tutorial

Besides proofreading the tutorial yourself, it would be advisable to get other people to have a look. Chances are that they will see spelling and grammar mistakes that you missed. In addition, they might give you ideas on how you can explain things better.

10. Add a FAQ section

After reading your tutorial, people are likely to have some questions. You can answer some of these questions in advance by adding a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section to your tutorial. Make sure you regularly update this section as you get more inquiries from readers.

11. Update and offer support

As new information emerges, you should continuously update your tutorial. This will keep it fresh and relevant. You should also be available and ready to offer your readers assistance. Keep track of the comments shared and be sure to respond in a timely and helpful way.  

Anyone can learn how to create a great tutorial. All it takes is a little research and some attention to detail.



Image via iStockphoto, Erikona

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