How to write a 'How to'

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How to write a 'How to'

This guide tells you how to prepare a 'How to' to share your knowledge and expertise with colleagues in the Tasmanian community sector.

'How tos' provide information. They aren’t people’s stories and they aren’t tutorials on the big theories behind community sector work. They are a simple set of step-by-step instructions.

Interested in writing a 'How to'? Here is your guide.

Decide what you want to write about

Think about the experience or knowledge you have that would be useful to share. What is something you feel comfortable and confident doing? If you find it hard to focus on something you could ask yourself:

  • Has someone recently asked me how to …?
  • What special skills do I have?
  • Have I done something other people haven’t done?
  • Have I had some training that other people haven’t had access to?

When you choose your topic remember that your 'How to' is a practical guide. A 'How to' isn’t the place to tell the story of your experiences. It is a chance for you to provide instructions or share advice.

Set out your 'How to'

Start with an overview. In a couple of sentences explain what your How To is a guide to and how it will help your readers.

Set out your advice step by step in the order things need to be done. It might help to write the steps on sticky notes and arrange them in order before you type them up.

Each step should be a self-contained task or a single idea.

Think about how to write your 'How to'

Don’t let it get too long. It might be better to create two or more How Tos out of your subject. For example, if you have 20 steps in your How To Recruit Volunteers for your Community Group, you might be able to create a series of more specific 'How tos', such as How To Advertise for Volunteers, How To Screen Volunteers, and How to Induct Volunteers.

  • Write simply and clearly.
  • Use short sentences (a maximum of 20 words).
  • Don’t use jargon or specialist words that people might not recognise.
  • Don’t use acronyms (eg SAAP or NHFC).Think about your audience. You are writing for community sector colleagues but every part of the sector uses different jargon and acronyms.
  • Don’t use 'I', 'me’ or 'we'. Address the reader directly by using 'you' or 'your'.

Try and write your 'How to' using active sentences. Active sentences use strong, active 'doing' words. An active sentence would say 'Do referee checks on your chosen candidate' instead of 'Referee checks should be done on your chosen candidate.' If you aren’t confident about writing in active sentences, our Communications Officer can help you.

Don’t let worries about your writing style stop you!

You can ask for help with your 'How to'. Call TasCOSS on 6231 0755 or email us.

Show people where they can find other resources

You can finish your 'How to' with links to other resources or articles which you think may be useful to your readers. Your 'How to' will have raised their interest and people like to follow the trail of information.

Finished? Email your 'How to' to TasCOSS

Include your name and position with the community organisation you are working for and a line or two about your experience in the area you’re writing about.

This is a great chance to share the skills and knowledge your organisation has with the sector and let everyone benefit from it.