Point # 5: Writing a Practical Detailed “How to” Article (Part 1 of 2)

If you are going to write, then write well.  Good writing takes time and is not an off-the-cuff endeavour.  It might be easy to write about a particular process or procedure, but how do you pique reader interest as well?  How well you write a “How to” article will determine your success as a writer.  You may even find yourself in demand as an expert in a given field.

So how do you write a dynamite eye-catching and informative article?

As in many types of writings an introduction body and conclusion are the main components of your article.

Introduction

The introduction is simply one or two statements stating what the article is about.  It lets the reader know what he/she can expect from the article.

Body

This is the main part of your article.  Because the Internet is overrun with “How to” articles the information you provide has to be accurate, well documented and expressed in the best possible way.  There must be sufficient detail and benefits given to have the reader consider you a reliable expert on the topic.  It must also be written in a way that clearly explains the process, rules, etc. and sets the steps to follow in a clear and logical manner.  When the reader is finished reading the article, he/she should have no questions left unanswered regarding the searched for topic.  Each step in a process has to be detailed.  Be specific.  When you are finished writing, ask yourself questions.  If your article does not answer your questions, then you need to revise your article.

I once read an article about home networking your computer.  The writer wrote that a person should take all of the devices and put them in one corner of the room.  Somehow I think there is more to it than this. The writer needed more specific detail and should have done sufficient research to become knowledgeable enough to write the article.  It will take more than just putting the equipment in one corner of the room to setup a home network.  The article was extremely vague and did not at all lay out an orderly process for putting together a home network.  You don’t want to write this kind of article!

Think about questions a person might ask about the process, procedure and etc.  Has your article answered all of these questions?  Also ask the question:  how will the knowledge in my article make their life better?  Has the article conveyed the greater benefits for their life if they follow the procedures in your article?  If you have addressed this essential “how to” article requirement; this will make them come back to your website again and again when they want information on other subjects.

Conclusion

This summarises or draws everything to a conclusion.  Only a few sentences are required for your concluding paragraph.  This paragraph may restate the main idea found in the introduction paragraph, using different words, but also pulling in a reference to the supporting information in the body.  Or it may make a conclusion based on the main body of the article.  It will reword the main idea in the introduction.

Edit, Revise, Grammar, Vocabulary, etc

Once you have finished writing; read your article.  Look for grammar mistakes.  Don’t leave all the editing to the editor on your team.  If possible, read your article to a friend or family member.  Do they have questions that your article has not answered?  If they ask questions, you have missed some important information, details or steps in your “How to” article.  Revisit your article and add the vital information that you missed putting in the first time around.

Correct grammar and vocabulary is absolutely essential to writing a “how to” article well.  If your grammar is poor, hone up on it either independently, or take a course from an English language centre to improve it.  Equally important is the use of suitable vocabulary.  Make good use of a dictionary and thesaurus.  You don’t want people to find your article an article for ridicule and laughter.  You want your readers to consider you an expert and to take your articles seriously.  Therefore show your expertise through good grammar and appropriate mature vocabulary.

To show you how the wrong word can ruin an otherwise interesting article:  I read an article on “How to Plan Your Wedding”.  The writer suggested several unique wedding spots.  One such spot was in an ‘exotic orchid’.  An orchid is an exquisite, rare and hard to grow flowering plant.  Perhaps the writer wanted to plan the wedding in a ‘petal-scented orchard’.  An orchard is a plot where fruit trees grow.  The size of the orchard would be more fitting for a wedding gathering than an orchid.  Proper word usage is vital to writing a top-notch article.  If you don’t know the meaning, don’t use it or else make good use of your dictionary.  Using the correct grammar and vocabulary requires time and effort, but the end result is worth the sweat.

To summarise, the important things to look for when writing a bang-up “How to” article are:

  • Know your material – know enough about your subject that you come across as an expert in the field.  And you should be an expert.  Don’t write about things where you don’t have sufficient information.  Misinformation or inadequate information is no information at all and it is best left unwritten.
  • Title – the title must call out to the reader “Read me.  Read me.”
  • Introduction – should be interesting enough that the reader will want to continue reading until the end of the article.
  • Body – Steps, Details, proper sequence and clear logical order are musts.
  • Conclusion – restates the main idea and even reaffirms to the reader the benefits that are derived from following the steps in the article.  The conclusion will leave the reader in a satisfied mood.
  • Write well – use mature, correct grammar, appropriate vocabulary, write concisely but informatively.  Write your “how to” process in an orderly fashion, being both coherent and cohesive.

Try these steps to write a dynamic article and you will soon be in demand.  Agencies will want your articles because they bring readership to their website.  Readers will want to read your articles because you have a proven track record of writing honest, clear detailed articles.  They can trust you.  You may find that your expertise is even wanted outside the writer’s sphere.  Take the time to write well.

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