It only stands to reason that to write an effective "How to do it" article you must be knowledgeable of the subject at hand. You can not expect to write about something successfully if you know nothing about the theme. This would be similar to a doctor performing surgery without receiving the necessary training.
This may not be so difficult of a requirement to fulfill. Think about your lifetime of experience. What things have you accomplished over your span of existence? What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time? You may have a more valuable resource in regards to your knowledge and writing then you may imagine.
I was a middle school teacher for a few years and writing an article on how to do something is very similar to teaching a classroom of students. It is a matter of sharing your experiences with the reader and telling the reader how they too can create these same experiences. It is important to note that even though your "How to" article may be intended for adults you still must keep the style simple and to the point.
As with any good writing, it can be broken down into several major groups. You would initially have your introduction; next you have your body and finally your conclusion. Let's cover these points one by one.
The introduction should give the reader a quick overview of what they are about to read. In a "How to" article it should provide a simple summary of what they are about to learn and perhaps how you plan to attack this goal. Possibly, include a short bit of material on why they would want to do this project. You do not need a lot of detail in this paragraph, however you should be clear on what the purpose of the "How to" is.
Next we come to the meat of the article, the actual step by step instructions on how to do something. I personally will start with a list of all the required items necessary to complete the "How to do". Nothing is more annoying then to start a new project only to find that half way through you do not have all the equipment you may need or a vital supply item is missing. Situations such as these can quickly bring an end to the project as well as to your enthusiasm for it.
The actual steps should follow a logical progression from the start to the finish. This paragraph will generally use bullet points to stress to the reader that these are step by step instructions and as such must be followed in sequence.
The difficult point here is that you already know how to do the task you are talking about so it is easy for you to accidentally overlook a valuable point. It is here that you must step back and distance yourself from your writing for a moment and imagine that you are the person learning the task. Ask yourself; Did I cover this step adequately? Is this step understandable? Could I make it better?
A particularly dangerous or complex step may be enclosed in a box or in some way highlighted to let the reader know that this is a special warning item. You want this warning step to stand out from the other steps. Occasional if your article consists of lengthy steps you may need to summary what has been completed up to that point. This procedure allows the reader to regroup and gather their thoughts together so making sure everything is correct up to that point.
Now your steps are completed and the reader is well on their way to successfully completing the "How to" article, it is time for your conclusion. The conclusion should do just that "conclude" your article. The conclusion is the combining paragraph which takes everything before it and makes it the complete article. Without a proper conclusion the reader feels that they are left hanging. Simply put, the conclusion is a short, concise summary of all that has come before it.
I have briefly provided you with a few simple and easy to understand instructions on writing the how to article so now its your turn. Sit down at the keyboard and teach!
Copyright @ 2008 Joseph Parish