How to Write a Tutorial
With the introduction of Mibba's new tutorial category, there has been a major influx of instructional articles submitted to the article section. While most have been clear and easy to follow, some tutorials have been missing a few key elements. In this article, I hope to help Mibbians improve the quality and helpfulness of their tutorials by addressing a few issues I've noticed so far.
Introduction and Conclusion
Many tutorials submitted have included two basic things: a numbered list of instructions and a straight-to-the-point title. While these two things are certainly very important, it is also important to remember that a tutorial is still an article and like any article, an introduction and a conclusive paragraph should be included.
An introduction to a tutorial can be very simple. As expected, it should introduce the readers to the topic of your tutorial. For example, if you're writing a tutorial on creating a banner in Photofiltre, your introduction could state: Like published pieces, we can often include a book cover or a banner to help represent our stories on Mibba. This tutorial details how you can make a beautiful banner using a free and easy to use photo-editor. Including a introduction allows you to ease your readers into the tutorial, it also solidifies your purpose and makes that purpose clear to all readers.
Your conclusion, like your introduction, can be short and simple. It is meant to bring your piece to a close and help reinforce any important information. For example: Once you've carefully followed all these steps, you should have created a colorful banner that gives your readers just a hint of what's to come. Don't forget to save your image to your computer or a memory card before closing Photofiltre and uploading it to your Mibba story. And if you're unsure of anything else, don't be afraid to ask questions in this article's comment section.
Another important aspect of a tutorial is providing good instructions. Good instructions should be clear, concise and easy to follow. If the process you are describing is complex or involves a lot of steps, be sure to properly explain each part and organize your article well. If needed, break your article down into more than one part (using the appropriate headings to separate each part).
When giving instructions, try not to ramble on unnecessarily or veer off-topic, this may confuse your readers. While you may be tempted to include anecdotal information (examples of times in which you tried and failed), try to keep it out of the instructional portion of your tutorial unless it's to warn a reader against a mistake.
Always give your instructions in the order of which each detail is to be carried out.
Going hand-in-hand with proper instructions, is proper visuals. For some tutorials, visuals are important and can prove to be detrimental. If providing an image will help make the process easier for the reader, include them (whether it be a link to the image or placing the actual image into the content of your tutorial). Visuals are usually most helpful in tutorials for hand-crafted projects, make-up/fashion tutorials, and computer graphic tutorials, but can be successfully used in many other pieces.
Helpful Links and Other Information
Once you've neared the end of your tutorial, if there is any outside sources that may better assist the reader, be sure to let them know. From links to other tutorials or websites to lists of products you may have used, readers will be grateful for any extra information or tips you can give them.
Some things to remember:
- If you're using special products, remember to make the reader aware. For example, if you're creating a banner, always let the reader know which program you're using (Photoshop, Photofiltre, Paint.Net...) - each program functions slightly differently, so it's important to start off the tutorial on the same page as your readers.
- Readers may not hold as much knowledge on a topic as you, so be sure to define (or provide definition) of any technical terms that may be unknown.
- When writing a tutorial, remember that many readers may be completely inexperienced with the topic, so try to provide as much relevant information, examples, and visuals as needed.
- The best tutorials are those that are concise and straight to the point. Try not to mince words. Remember that this is a tutorial, not a story, so don't be afraid to be direct.
While a knowledgeable author is very important in tutorials, an author who can clearly explain the processes is often just as important. The best tutorials are those which are easily read and understood, so always make your tutorials as simple as possible and always keep your audience in mind.