How to Write a Tutorial

We are starting a new project featuring Writers in the Grove members only. Our members will be publishing tutorials and writing and publishing on this site to help educate themselves and others. We have some of the most amazingly talented writers, and we are eager to share their wisdom and experiences with you. Stay tuned for some great writing tips, tricks, techniques, and advice. And consider signing up for email notifications from this site when we publish something new so you can keep up with all our goodies.

A tutorial is an educational how-to, informative tip, studied technique, or wise advise. A tutorial on a website is a concise, step-by-step recipe for how to do something.

A tutorial published on the web shouldn’t be an entire guide book on how to do something. It is a taste, a simple instructional process, helping you learn one new thing at a time.

Writing a tutorial is different from writing an essay, poem, or prose in general. It is different from writing most editorial articles. A successful tutorial is written as if the author is sitting down next to the person, guiding them through the process in a simple and gentle fashion.

There is form and structure to writing a tutorial, especially for the web, though its style arose from magazine publishing.

The Tutorial Form and Structure

A tutorial for this website, and websites and magazines in general, is structured at its most simple form as:

  1. Opening paragraphs: Example of someone using this technique, with a little bit of the why. Keep this to no longer than 2-3 paragraphs, one is better.
  2. Explain the why: If it is not clear in the opening, next explain why someone should use this tip, technique, or advice. Keep it to one to two paragraphs.
  3. Ingredients/Tools/Supplies/What you need to know: The next section lists the various things you need to have or know to complete the task. For writers, this could be using a software program, the web, a notebook and pen, specific books, or other items.
  4. Step-by-Step Instructions: Break the process down to individual steps, taking the reader through the process one thing at a time. Use numbered and unnumbered lists for improved readability and clarity. You may also use heading styles to break the steps up as I have done in this article.
  5. Taking it one step further: This section takes the process just one step further, offering an alternative method, a way to expand upon the lesson learned, just a tiny step further in the process to inspire and motivate.
  6. Resources: If the article needs it, add more resources, websites, books, classes, videos, other materials to help the reader learn more about the topic.
  7. Summary (optional): Some writers like to summarize what they just wrote. In the web and in many magazines, the article usually stands alone without a summary, but if you need to, this is where it goes.

What You Need to Know About Writing Web Tutorials

A well-written tutorial begins with the paragraph and not a subtitle or heading. Headings (subtitles) are used throughout the article after the opening paragraphs to break the content up into sections and guide the reader through the information.

Links are used, if appropriate, in a properly and well-formed HTML link. Ensure all links offer specific and related content to support the tutorial’s intentions.

Images are excellent additions. Use them to support specific visual examples. Not every tutorial needs images, but when they do, they are helpful. For this site, size them at 800 pixels (about 4 inches) maximum when you upload them or include them in your submission, and allow them to be resized and aligned right, left, or center appropriately as needed in the article. And please keep them at a small file size, below 100K, as JPG or PNG files.

Consider your audience. What is the least they need to know to do this themselves? Write that.

Keep it simple. Keep it clear.

Have fun. Make this process enjoyable and readers will enjoy the process of learning from you.

For More Information

Prompt: Freedom Across the Ages

Independence Day is fast approaching. We look at freedom in very different ways. Looking at freedom at different ages is also a unique perspective.

The prompt this week is to pick an age, five, ten, fifteen, twenty, forty, sixty, and describe what freedom felt like to you (or a character) at each age. Pick at least one and make it into a story, or use all of them to describe your experience of freedom.

Prompt: Expectations of Fathers

The prompt this week is on upcoming Father’s Day holiday.

The role of a father has changed over the years. The impact of fathers is legendary throughout history. We often talk about “father figures” in our lives. Many feel “less than” because they were raised without a father or by an absent or distant father. Others had different father experiences, ones of abuse. Have you ever thought of how an abused child responds to a traditional prayer, “Our Father.”

Fathers have had many stereotypes over the years, such as the television show, “Father Knows Best,” or struggle with the impact of the father-figure of Bill Cosby, now that he, the person and actor, is charged with crimes.

We have changed who we think we are as women. How has men’s attitudes about themselves, their perspectives on fatherhood, changed? Expectations have also changed about father behaviors.

Write about fathers, personally or conceptually.

Writing Workshop at Oregon City Library July 30, 2017

Oregon City Library is celebrating its 175th anniversary with a free writing workshop with Cindy Williams Gutierrez and Paulann Petersen on Sunday, July 30, 2017. The workshop will help participants generate new writing of prose or poetry on their library experiences, “with treasured books, with the magic process of reading.”

The workshop is from 1-5PM, followed by a dinner (bring your own sack dinner) together, and a reading that is open to the public at 6:30PM at the newly expanded and remodeled library in Oregon City, Portland.

Please register for the workshop by calling the library at 503-657-8269 ext. 1017.

Prompt: Witness Perspectives

The prompt this week explores the subject of memory, eg, how differently my siblings remember incidents that we all witnessed in our family. Or how difficult it is to collate the different perceptions of witness to a crime or an accident.

How can we fully believe anyone’s story when we know what has colored his or her perception in the first place?

Will our own story ever be told? By whom? To what use?

Why telling the truth to the best of our ability is important, even knowing it is not The Truth.

Jessica Morrell to Speak at Writers Forum in Hillsboro

The fairly new Washington County Writers Forum in Hillsboro, Oregon, will be hosting a Writers Forum event on June 1, 2017, at Insomnia Coffee from 7-8pm. Insomnia Coffe is at 317 E. Main Street in downtown Hillsboro. Suggested admission is $5.

Jessica Morrell is a fabulous author, speaker, and instructor from the Portland area. She offers regular educational workshops for fiction and memoir writers around the area, and speaks at many conferences. She will be covering the writing process from “flash to finish” in this program titled “From Idea to Story.”

Writers in the Grove welcomes the Washington County Writers Forum to our writing community and look forward to some excellent workshops and programs.