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Article - 'Writing a Readable Tutorial' by Psi

An item about Miscellanious posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

On how to write a readable tutorial! Very good!

Body

Writing a Readable Tutorial

There`s quite a few of tutorials out there that are (no offense) quite badly written.
I won`t name any, but some of those I`ve read really didn`t make any sense, rendering them useless to me.

So, I`ve decided to write a guide on how to make your tutorials easier to understand.

Spelling is important.
If you`re not sure about the spelling, paste the text into something that has a spell checker, and spell it.
Of course, the spell checker wont catch everything, I`ve had cases of having written "into" instead of "onto", both with pretty distinctly different meanings, simply because of the positioning of keys; a spell checker wont pick this up beause they are both correct.
So make sure you check it thoroughly.

Now I`m sure many spelling mistakes are just down to bad response from a keyboard.
Heck, I have a lot of trouble making mine respond when I type in some of Gaming World`s text boxes.
If you have this problem, try writing all your articles, reviews etc in Notepad or Word.
Then check it, and, if it looks right, copy the contents into the submission field text box thing.

Better presentation can make it much clearer; like here, Ive gone for a format of a line break at every sentence to clarify things a little.

Oh yeah, Ive noticed that Gaming World doesn`t like apostrophes very much (why such a long word for such a small symbol?)
For those who don`t know, the apostrophe is that thing you use to make shorter words (like "have not" becoming "haven`t").
Because they are important in making sure the tutorial makes sense (avoids confusion between thing like "I`ll" [I will] and "ill" [sick]), and Gaming World tends to come up with "Syntax Error" if you use them, try using the other thing that kind of looks like an inverted one (I have no idea what it`s called) next to the number 1 at the top of the keyboard.

If you can, try to write it so that any idiot can read it.
Make sure your tutorials are pretty simple, keeping in mind that you probably don`t know your target audience, and seven-year-olds could be trying to make something of it.
They`re going to have a much harder time making sense of your article if it`s written badly.

When you think you`re ready to teach the world of your great idea, have someone else read the tutorial if you`re not sure, and ask them if it makes sense.
I can`t usually get a proof reader for my articles because I don`t personally know anyone else who uses RPG Maker, so I have to do it myself.

One thing thats really important is that you stick to the point.
Make sure your tutorial or article or whatever stays on the subject as much as possible so the reader won`t get bored.
If you`re doing something on story writing, don`t go off on some rant about why you hated a certain story; try to criticise it in a way it tells the reader what to avoid.

And finally, have fun! Chances are, you write a tutorial because you enjoy sharing your ideas with everyone.
If you really hate writing tutorials, don`t just half-heartedly scribble something down and say "There. That explains it."
Get someone else to write it for you and, if you like it, post it and give them credit where it`s due.

Well, that`s it. I hope you find this article helpful. Comments can be mailed to

Simonammundsen@aol.com
or
simonammundsen@hotmail.com

Thanks for reading

-Psi