A Guide for Writing a How-To Article


That said, there are a few key elements that are important to include, which can be found in our contest rubric. Below, we share some examples from the Tip column to illustrate these elements.

Introduce your expert source.

The person you interviewed will be the main source of information for your piece. Ask yourself: How will my readers know this person is an expert in the skill or task? What information should I include about this person to make my readers feel that they can trust the person’s knowledge and advice?

Here is how Ms. Wollan introduces her expert in “How to Skip a Stone”:

“Throw at a 20-degree angle,” says Lydéric Bocquet, a physics professor at École Normale Supérieure in Paris.

Later, she further explains Mr. Bocquet’s expertise:

Bocquet’s quest to understand how this happens — how a solid object can skim along water without immediately sinking — began more than a decade ago, while he was skipping stones on the Tarn River in southern France with his young son. “He turns to me,” Bocquet says, “and asks, ‘Why does the stone bounce on the water?’” To answer that question satisfactorily, Bocquet and his colleagues built a mechanical stone skipper and analyzed the angle of each toss using high-speed video. They also created a set of mathematical equations to predict the number of skips.

How do you know Bocquet is an expert in skipping stones? Do you, as the reader, trust him as an expert on this topic? Why or why not?

Explain how to do the task or skill.

The heart of your piece is, of course, your explanation. You might start by making a list of steps that your expert source shared and then paring it down to the most essential information.

Ask yourself:

  • What instructions are crucial to the reader’s understanding of how to accomplish this skill or task?

  • What did the expert share that I found surprising or may not have thought of?

  • What details can I leave out, either because they are not very interesting or because they are less important?

  • What sequence for the steps make the most sense for my readers?

Consider the first paragraph from “How to Build a Sand Castle”:

“Use your architect mind,” says Sudarsan Pattnaik, an award-winning sand sculptor from Puri, a seaside city in India. If you’re building from memory, first envision your castle. For Pattnaik, who is 42, that means well-known Hindu or Muslim sites. “I have made so many Taj Mahals,” he says. Build with fine-grained sand already wetted by an outgoing tide. “Dry sand is too, too difficult,” Pattnaik says. Bring tools: hand shovels, buckets with the bottoms cut off and squirt bottles. Tamp wet sand into your bucket molds, setting one layer and then the next, like bricks. Sculpt architectural details from the top of the mound down. Bring reference photographs if you’re aiming for realism.

See if you can identify all the steps to making a sand castle that the writer shares in this paragraph. What do you notice about the order? What, if anything, do you think the writer might have left out, and why do you think she made that choice? What tips did you find most surprising? What do these lines add to the piece?



Source link

Latest articles

Related articles

spot_img