Luckily, if you’re learning how to create an ultimate guide on a particular topic, you probably already know that topic fairly well. Which means you’re also researching it constantly and keeping up on any changes to it.
Instruction Manual: What is it & How to Write it? (Template Included)
Looking to create an awesome instruction manual? You’ve come to the right place! This blog post will make you a pro on how to create a stellar instruction manual. A free template is also there to make things easier for you!
Businesses should start planning these documents as early as possible in order to note down each and every step and minor problem that can cause a problem in the future.
7 Steps on How to Write An Ultimate Guide
1. Why You Should Create an Ultimate Guide (and What it Means)
2. Topic Research: Study Your Topic, Audience, and Competitors
3. When Writing, Start Off with a Format – or Better Yet, a Template
4. Conduct Keyword Research AFTER Your Outline is Created
5. Go Heavy on Examples, Images, and Statistics if Applicable
6. Get a Designer Involved
7. Do Ultimate Editing and Tracking for Your Ultimate Guide
All of these are coming in our blog topic today, complete with a visual infographic on the topic. First, let’s share a story about why and how ultimate guides work so well.
How to Make a How-To Guide
1. Conduct research to ensure your guide is the most comprehensive piece on the topic.
Depending on the topic, you want to write something that caters to the specific audience you’re targeting. For instance, if you’re writing a how-to guide targeted toward mechanics, there are certain terms and descriptions you can forgo, as you assume a mechanic is already well versed in this.
Diving into the post, you’ll see Simply Recipe has covered sections including "French Verses American Omelettes," "The Best Pan for Making Omelettes," and even "Ideas for Omelette Fillings."
Even if you know a topic incredibly well, research isn’t a step you should skip. In fact, knowing a topic well can make it more difficult to write a how-to guide on the topic, as you might make assumptions about what should be covered.
2. Understand your target audience’s concerns and challenges.
For this step, leverage online community forums like Quora or internal, historical data to identify the concerns or challenges your target audience might have. That information will help you identify content to include in your guide.
Conducting qualitative research like this arms you with the information necessary to ensure your how-to guide addresses all relevant concerns on a given topic.
3. Structure your steps in the correct order for your reader, and when possible, use screenshots.
Your readers will bounce from your page if it’s too difficult for them to quickly find the answer to their question. With this in mind, deliver it as quickly as possible — and in the right order.
Many readers will use your how-to guide as a list of instructions. For instance, if you’re writing, "How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac," you’ll want to write down each specific action necessary to take a screenshot. When possible, use visuals like GIFs, images, screenshots, and videos to supplement your instructions.
Step 4: Formalize the Written Steps
Take your latest draft and use your technical writing skills to translate them into the how-to portion of the manual. Start with a complete list of supplies laid out so it’ll be easy for readers to pull together what they need. Bullet points are good for this. The actual steps should be presented as a numbered list that readers can follow step by step.
Once the steps have been laid out, consider where graphic elements can help make it easier for readers to follow and apply them. Develop appropriate charts, graphs or illustrations to include in the text along with the steps. Place them on the page so readers can clearly see what part of the written instructions correlate to each image. If you aren’t able to develop the graphics yourself, work with an illustrator or graphic artist.
How to write a report in 7 steps
1 Choose a topic based on the assignment
Before you start writing, you need to pick the topic of your report. Often, the topic is assigned for you, as with most business reports, or predetermined by the nature of your work, as with scientific reports. If that’s the case, you can ignore this step and move on.
If you’re in charge of choosing your own topic, as with a lot of academic reports, then this is one of the most important steps in the whole writing process. Try to pick a topic that fits these two criteria:
2 Conduct research
With business and scientific reports, the research is usually your own or provided by the company—although there’s still plenty of digging for external sources in both.
For academic papers, you’re largely on your own for research, unless you’re required to use class materials. That’s one of the reasons why choosing the right topic is so crucial; you won’t go far if the topic you picked doesn’t have enough available research.
The key is to search only for reputable sources: official documents, other reports, research papers, case studies, books from respected authors, etc. Feel free to use research cited in other similar reports. You can often find a lot of information online through search engines, but a quick trip to the library can also help in a pinch.
3 Write a thesis statement
Before you go any further, write a thesis statement to help you conceptualize the main theme of your report. Just like the topic sentence of a paragraph, the thesis statement summarizes the main point of your writing, in this case, the report.
Once you’ve collected enough research, you should notice some trends and patterns in the information. If these patterns all infer or lead up to a bigger, overarching point, that’s your thesis statement.
For example, if you were writing a report on the wages of fast-food employees, your thesis might be something like, “Although wages used to be commensurate with living expenses, after years of stagnation they are no longer adequate.” From there, the rest of your report will elaborate on that thesis, with ample evidence and supporting arguments.